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Firm seeks plea bargaining in 1.6bn/- tax case

SENIOR officials with BEVICO Limited, a company engaged in importation and selling of alcoholic beverages, are pursuing plea bargaining agreement to end a 1.6bn/- tax fraud trial against them.

This was revealed at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in Dar es Salaam when the economic crime case against two French nationals, Thierry Lefeuvre and Melanie Phillippe and two Tanzanians Joseph Rwegasira and Ntemi Massanja came for mention.

Advocate Emanuel Kesi, for the accused persons, told Senior Resident Magistrate in Charge Godfrey Isaya that the accused have initiated the plea bargaining process with a view to summarily end the trial through such arrangement. He could not go into details on the matter.

The prosecuting attorney from the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) Magela Ndimbo had nothing to add, but asked the court to set another mention date, as investigations into the trial have not been completed. Magistrate Isaya granted the request and postponed the case to December 17, 2020.

PCCB records show that Lefeuvre and Phillippe are Chief Executive Officer and Human Resources Manager with BEVICO Limited, while Samson and Massanja are Finance Manager and lawyer with the company.

They are facing a total of 46 counts of leading organized crime, failure to pay tax, tax evasion, forgery of various documents, uttering false documents, money laundering and occasioning loss to a specified authority.

It is alleged that on diverse dates between September 1, 2017 and September 30, 2020 at various places within the commercial city of Dar es Salaam, jointly and together, all accused persons intentionally organized a criminal racket.

The court heard that between October 1, 2017 and December 31, 2019 in the city, by their willful acts, jointly and together, all accused persons caused the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) to suffer a pecuniary loss of 1,658,370,376/29.

On money laundering, Philippe and Massanja are charged that between October 1, 2017 and June 31, 2020 facilitated Samson and Lefeuvre to obtain the money, while knowing the same was proceeds of predicate offences of tax evasion, forgery and participation in organized crime group and racketing.

Within the same period, Samson and Lefeuvre allegedly engaged themselves in transactions that involved 1,658,370,376/29, while they knew that the money is proceeds of predicate offences to money laundering of tax evasion, forgery and participation in organized crime group and racketing.

The prosecution told the court that between October 1, 2017 and June 31, 2020 in the city, being Manager and Chief Executive Officer with BEVCO Limited, respectively, Samson and Lefeuvre failed to pay the said amount as Value Added Tax (VAT) payable to TRA.

It is alleged that between January 22 and July 19, 2019 within the city, being Finance Manager of BEVCO Limited, failed to pay a total of 187,263,009/48 being VAT, while between January 26, 2018 and May 21, 2020, Lefeuvre failed to pay a total of 593,279,429/61 as VAT payable to the Authority.

Between January 1 and April 1, 2020 at BEVCO Limited offices in Dar es Salaam, Samson forged several documents with different purposes, including Notice of Call of Shares, a reply letter, extraordinary members’ resolution, while Lefeuvre is alleged to have forged Companies Form 210b.

The two accused persons are also alleged to have jointly forged other documents for different purposes, including the form in question, return of allotment of shares Form 55a and application for change of BEVCO Company Limited particulars.

On January 1, 2020 at BEVCO Limited offices within the city, knowingly and fraudulently, Samson uttered to the Registrar of Companies the false documents.

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