THE accused facing 350bn/- economic charges, involving Independent Power Tanzania Limited (IPTL), have lodged 17 grounds of objection, seeking dismissal of the case, which is pending before the Kisutu Resident Magistrates’ Court in Dar es Salaam.
Defence counsel John Chuma and Alex Baromi for businessman James Rugemalira and IPTL lawyer Joseph Makandenge revealed such development yesterday when the case came for mention before Principal Resident Magistrate Huruma Shaidi.
For his part, Senior State Attorney Wankyo Simon proposed to respond to the grounds orally, but due to the complexity of the matter, the magistrate proposed to the parties - the prosecution and defence - to respond by way of written submissions.
He ordered the defence counsel to file their written submissions on March 2, 2020, while the prosecution would reply on or before March 12, 2020.
The magistrate adjourned the case for mention until March 12, 2020, but directed the defence counsel to file any rejoinder by Marc h 14, 2020. In the grounds of objections, Rugemalira states that the prosecution has offended the provisions of the Economic and Organised Crime Control Act, notably Section 29(5), which mandatorily directs that it is after the investigation has been completed he could probably have been criminally charged.
According to him, this is what the prosecution incompetently did since June 19, 2017 and as of such date they have failed to seize the procedural jurisdiction for continuing to maintain the criminal charges against him in the court register.
He stated that the court could not and had failed to cite the specific provision of the law empowering the court to continue adjourning the case, as the court had been unfortunately been misled to continue doing in a catastrophic violation of Tanzanian laws and public policy over incomplete investigation.
The businessman stated further that Makandege and IPTL Executive Chairman Harbinder Sethi had already written to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), proposing plea bargain negotiations, thus, there was no reasons for continuing adjourning the economic trial on investigation being incomplete.
He also stated that it was undisputed that on December 5, 2013 he had, on behalf of VIP Engineering and Marketing Limited, gave a reminder notice to the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) not to allow Pan Africa Power Solutions Tanzania Limited to be paid money from the Tegeta Escrow Account on behalf of IPTL.
Rugemalira, however, stated that the then BoT Governor, Dr Benno Ndullu, replied that consistent with the court order of September 5, 2013 and pursuant to the agreement involving the government and IPTL for delivery of the funds executed on October 27, 2013, the money was transferred to IPTL.
Such transfer, he stated made on November 28, 2013 and the BoT advised VIP Engineering company to refer all concerns pertaining to the escrow proceeds to either IPTL or the government.
For his part, Makandege stated that the charge was legally untenable for being arbitrarily premature before the court in contravention of the Economic and Organised Crime Control Act, as well as the National Prosecutions Services Act.
He stated that the continued pendency of the case without requisite steps having been taken since June 19, 2017 to date perverted the accused’s right to expeditious trial and undermined guiding principles by which public prosecutions ought to be informed, hence bad in law.
Makandege also challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter. The accused are charged with conspiracy, leading an organised crime, forgery, uttering a false document, obtaining money by false pretences, occasioning a loss to a specified authority and money laundering.
Between October 18, 2011 and March 19, 2014, in various places in Dar es Salaam in the United Republic of Tanzania and in various places in the Republic of Kenya, South Africa and the Republic of India, jointly and together, they allegedly conspired to commit an offence by obtaining money by false pretences.
Within the same period in the city of Dar es Salaam, the prosecution alleged, being not public officials, but in collusion with public officers, all accused intentionally and knowingly managed, financed and furthered the objectives of a criminal racket with intent to reap profit or other benefit.
Between November 29, 2013 and January 23, 2014 at Stanbic Bank Limited, Centre Branch in Kinondoni District and at Mkombozi Commercial Bank PLC, St Joseph Branch in Ilala District, by false pretences, Rugemalira and Sethi obtained $22,198,544.60 and 309,461,300,158/27.
The court heard further that on November 29, 2013 at Stanbic Bank Limited, Centre Branch in Kinondoni District, by their willful acts, jointly and together, Sethi and Rugemalira caused the government of United Republic of Tanzania to suffer a pecuniary loss of the said amount.
It is alleged that on diverse days between November 29, 2013 and January 23, 2014 in different places in the city, jointly and together, the accused conspired to commit an offence of money laundering by acquiring from the Bank of Tanzania the money.
On November 29, 2013 at Stanbic Bank Limited, Centre Branch in Kinondoni District, Sethi acquired $22,198,544.60 from BoT, while he knew at the time of acquisition of the money was the proceeds of a predicate offence.
The prosecution alleged further that between November 29, 2013 and March 14, 2014 at the same bank, Sethi acquired 309,461,300,158/27 from BoT, while knowing that such money was the proceeds of a predicate offence of participating in an organised criminal group and racketeering.
It is claimed also that on January 23, 2014 at Mkombozi Commercial Bank, St Joseph Branch in Ilala District, Rugemalira acquired 73,573,500,000/-from Sethi, while he knew at the time of acquisition the money was the proceeds of a predicate offence.
The court was also told that on the same day at the same bank in Ilala District in the city, Rugemalira acquired from Sethi $22m, while knowing that the money was the proceeds of a predicate offence of participating in an organised criminal group and racketeering.
For his part, Makandege is charged with receiving $980,000 illegally at Stanbic Bank in Kinondoni District and UBL Bank (T) Limited in Ilala District between January and February 2014. He is also accused of laundering the money.