THE Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) yesterday asked the Corruption and Economic Crimes Division of the High Court to confiscate as government property 16bn/-, proceeds of a pyramid scheme operated by two foreigners.
The foreigners, according to the application for forfeiture orders, are Manon Elisabeth Hubenthal, a resident of Greven in Germany and Frank Robert Ricketts, who resides in Blackwats, in the United Kingdom.
Both are directors and shareholders of IMS Marketing Tanzania Limited. The application has been supported by two affidavits of State Attorney Estazia Wilson and Investigator Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Fadhili, detailing how the foreigners were involved in the crimes of conducting the pyramid scheme and money laundering.
In the submissions to support the application, DPP Biswalo Mganga, who was assisted by Principal State Attorneys Shadrack Kimario and Christopher Msigwa told Judge Elinaza Luvanda that the forfeiture order was necessary to prevent offenders from benefiting from the proceeds of crimes.
According to the prosecution, it was sad to note that several people, including government officials and religious leaders, were involved in the pyramid scheme and invested some millions of money to enrich themselves, but to the detriment of the country’s economy.
“You can imagine one religious leader took 100m/-offerings and sow such money in the pyramid scheme.
We believe that if the forfeiture order is granted, these government and religious leaders will stop from engaging in these dirty games. It will deter others from committing similar crimes,” the DPP said.
Expounding, the prosecution asked the High Court to confiscate two bank accounts with a total sum of $1,351,597.79 and another account with €5,377,306.56, both held in the name of IMS Marketing Tanzania Limited at Bank of Africa (BOA), Bank Limited.
Relying on any other prayer for any other order the court could deem fit and just to grant, the DPP also asked the Court to order BOA Bank Limited to pay interests for the money for having remained in possession of such huge money since January 19, 2018.
The judge is set to deliver the ruling on April 3, 2020. It was submitted that on January 19, 2014, the two foreigners came to Tanzania and registered IMS Marketing Tanzania Limited, a company which was given by Kinondoni Municipal Council a business licence of operating marketing services business.
The prosecution submitted that neither the dealing in crypto currency nor collection of funds from members of the public is among the purposes of the business for which the company was registered as per the Memorandum and Articles of Association.
On diverse dates, the two foreigners opened the bank accounts after registering the company, which it was established later that it had relations with IMS International Marketing Services of Singapore.
Such a Singaporean company, the prosecution further charged, had a close link and part of Onecoin Limited, a company founded in April 2014 in Gibraltar and had offices in Bulgaria, the United Arabs Emirates (UAE) and Hong Kong.
“IMS Marketing Tanzania Limited, IMS International Marketing Services and Onecoin Limited are operating a pyramid scheme that is a predicate offence of money laundering,” the prosecution submitted.
It was alleged further that the operations of Onecoin Limited and subsidiary companies in various jurisdictions had been stopped and their bank accounts frozen for its complicity in money laundering offences arising from a scheme that was the same as pyramid scheme.
Following such a stoppage of operations, Onecoin Limited advertised on her Facebook account and online website that members should pay their trade packages and deposits through the bank accounts maintained at BOA Bank.
On different dates, 16,720,858,579/47 was received from three bank accounts. Such amount comprises $1,351,597.79 in two USD accounts and another €5,377,306.56 the Euro account.
Considering such evidence, the DPP filed an economic case against the two at the Kisutu Resident Magistrates’ Court in Dar es Salaam on three charges of conspiracy to commit an offence, money laundering and unlawful operating a pyramid scheme.
Since the accused were at large, the prosecution applied and obtained an arrest warrant against them.
The arrest warrant was published, but they could not show up. It was at that point in time when the DPP filed the application for forfeiture orders before the High Court.