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Kabendera inks plea bargain deal, set free

Freelance Journalist Erick Kabendera on Monday walked out of prison after agreeing to pay 273.5m/- to the government in plea-bargaining arrangement with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

The seasoned journo had pleaded guilty to tax evasion and money laundering and was subsequently sentenced to pay the sum calculated as compensation and fine.

Principal Resident Magistrate Janeth Mtega, who was conducting the economic sabotage trial of Kabendera at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in Dar es Salaam, had convicted him of the two offences on his own plea of guilty after the DPP dropped the third count he was facing-- leading organized crime.

When imposing the sentence, the magistrate ordered Kabendera to pay 250,000/- fine for tax evasion and other 100m/- as fine for money laundering. In addition, he was directed to compensate the government evaded tax amounting to 173,247,047/-

Initially, Kabendera, a resident of Mbweni at Mpiji area within Kinondoni District, was facing all three counts. But he wrote to the DPP on October 11, 2019, expressing his intention to enter into the plea bargaining agreement in terms of section 194A (2) of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA).

Kabendera also offered to plead guilty to the charges. The DPP accepted his offer by dropping the first count of leading organized crime under section 91 (1) of the CPA and later prepared a new charge sheet containing two counts only in consideration to the plea bargaining agreement sought.

The prosecution, led by Principal State Attorney Faraja Nchimbi and Senior State Attorney Wankyo Simon, for the DPP, presented the new charge sheet in the yesterday's proceedings.

Having been read over and explained to him, Kabendera pleaded guilty. Thereafter, the prosecution read over the memorandum of facts of the case of which the journalist admitted all to be true.

Having received aggravating and mitigating factors, the court proceeded to convict him of the two offences and he was sentenced accordingly.

According to the plea bargaining agreement signed by both parties, Kabendera is to settle the 173m/- within six months from the date of his conviction, meaning that he would be required to pay 29m/- each month and that he was required to pay the 100m/- immediately to the Bank of Tanzania (BoT).

Presenting a memorandum of facts of the case, the prosecution told the court that the journalist participated in an organized criminal group and racketeering on diverse dates between January 1, 2010 and July 29, 2019.

In order to execute the said criminal activities, the accused person entered into illegal agreement with other persons within and outside the United Republic of Tanzania, both natural and legal including foreign public figures all not in court.

The accused agreed with his syndicate to commit various offences including but not limited to forgery, tax evasion and money laundering with a view of destabilising social and economic stability of the country through criminal activities.

In furtherance of their criminal syndicate, the accused and his syndicates agreed to have vehicles of money laundering. In execution of the enterprise, on March 23, 2020, Kabendera with his companion registered Voxy Media Centre (T) Ltd that was issued with a certificate of incorporation by BRELA.

On January 11, 2016, the accused and his wife Loy Philip Kabendera, who formerly was known as Loyce Philip Nganga registered another vehicle of money laundering, namely, Sitrep Company Limited that was issued with a certificate of incorporation by the Business and Licensing Authority (BRELA).

The accused and his wife forged various forms while registering the company showing that their office was located at Block No. 13 Plot 23 Mbweni Mpiji, while the said office in fact is their residential house.

On February 22, 2016, the accused, his wife and Sitrep Company Limited further applied for and were issued with business licence for public relations business, indicating that the office premises are located at the same house, but the truth being the said house is purely residential.

The accused, in managing the affairs of a criminal racket, knowingly furnished false information to government officials in order to further the objectives of the criminal racket with the intention of reaping profit or other benefits.

In effecting the illegal agreement of destabilising social and economic stability of the country through criminal activities, including money laundering and tax evasion, on April 2, 2016, the accused and his wife opened two bank accounts for US dollars and Great Britain pounds with CRDB Bank Oysterbay Branch.

The accused also opened two personal bank accounts, one for USD at CRDB Kijitonyama Branch and received 230,358.83 US dollars from his criminal associates and others persons, K2 Intelligence Ltd, Palladium (Tanzania) Ltd, Sitrep Co. Ltd, Eurasia Group Ltd, International Crisis Rou and some foreign dignitaries.

 

THE Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly ...

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Author: FAUSTINE KAPAMA

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