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Nine accused to settle 31bn/- case on plea bargaining plan

NINE people including some local citizens and Sri Lanka nationals have taken advantage of opportunities offered by Chief Justice Ibrahim Juma recently to go for published new plea bargaining rules to end the 31bn/- economic, tax evasion and mineral deal cases against them.

This was revealed at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in Dar es Salaam on Friday when the two cases, one involving six Tanzanians, including businessman Lucas Mallya and the other comprising four Sri Lanka nationals came for mention before Senior Resident Magistrate in Charge Godfrey Isaya.

Advocate Hudson Ndusyepo, who is defending some of the accused persons, informed the court that his clients were willing to enter into plea bargaining agreement and have already wrote to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), expressing their desire to end the criminal trials.

He invited the magistrate to invoke the provision of Rule 5 of the Criminal Procedure (Plea Bargaining) Rules, 2021 to give directions and prescribe time within which the parties could negotiate and conclude the agreement.

The magistrate made an inquiry from all accused persons to satisfy the court in terms of Rule 5 (2) of the Rules, whether they decided to enter into the plea bargaining agreement with the DPP voluntarily.

Having so satisfied, he ordered the prosecution and defence to conclude the negotiations by March 8, 2021.

He also directed the prosecution to comply with Rule 6 of the Rules, which require them to disclose to accused persons all relevant information, documents or other matters obtained during investigation for them to make an informed decision regarding the agreement.

In the first trial involving 31bn/- economic and tax evasion, Mallya, a Director with Jaluma General Supplies Limited, is charged alongside businessmen Prochesi Shayo, Geofrey Urio and Happy Mwamugunda, a businesswoman and Nelson Kahangwa and Tunsubilege Mateni, both accountants.

Other charges against them include leading organised crime, forgery, being in possession of stamps printed without authority, occasioning loss to a specified authority, importation of goods without being registered, distribution of excisable goods without fixing stamps and money laundering.

In the second economic case, four foreigners from Sri Lanka, Mohamed Hashim (47), Mohamed Muwas (26), Mohamed Yoonus (28) and Mehbood Rattansi (28), all businessmen, are charged with counts relating to unlawful dealing in 2,140 grammes of different minerals without dealers or broker license.

The charges against them include leading organized crime, unauthorized possession and buying of minerals, occasioning loss to a specified authority and money laundering, which are alleged to have been committed in January 2021 in Dar es Salaam.

According to the prosecution, all the businessmen were allegedly found in possession of 2,054.4 grammes of different unpolished gemstones namely Sapphire, Rubby, Tourmaline, Spine Aquamarine, Zirconia, Almindite, Rhodolite, Chrysoberyl, Feldspar and Amethyst, valued at 25,788,353/03.

In the other case, the prosecution alleges that on diverse dates between January 1, 2015 and January 7, 2020 in Dar es Salaam and others places within the United Republic of Tanzania, all six accused persons intentionally organised a criminal racket.

The prosecution alleged that on January 7, 2020 at Chang’ombe A in Temeke District in the city, Mallya was found in possession of 93 rolls of the stamps valued at 80,516,000/- printed without the authority of the Commissioner.

Between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2019 in Dar es Salaam by reasons of his willful acts of making counterfeit stamps, Mallya allegedly caused the government of Tanzania to suffer pecuniary loss of 15,241,075,169/- and within the same period fraudulently evaded payment of the sum as tax to TRA.

The Director of Jaluma General Supplies Limited was charged with money laundering in that within the same period in the city, he allegedly acquired the sum of 15bn/-, while he knew or ought to have known that the amount was proceeds of a predicate offence of fraudulent tax evasion.

Between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2019, with intent to evade tax, Mwamugunda, the Director with Happy Imports Associates, allegedly imported 413 cartons of the said unregistered excisable goods, thereby evading payment of 9,584,401,393/- as excise duty and Value Added Tax (VAT) payable to TRA.

It is alleged that within the same period, by reasons of her willful acts of importing and distributing the goods without being licenced and upon affixing electronic counterfeit stamps, Mwamugunda caused the government of Tanzania to suffer pecuniary loss of the said 9.5bn/-.

The businesswoman was also charged with money laundering in that she acquired 9,584,401,393/-, while knowing that the amount was proceeds of predicate offence of fraudulent evasion of tax.

It is alleged that between December 1 and 31, 2019 at Tabata, Prochesi Shayo failed to pay 38,827,267/- as tax to TRA and other 2,359,342,542.07, being income tax and VAT payable to the Authority.

Within the same period, by their willful acts of distributing goods without affixing stamps, Shayo allegedly caused loss of 2,398,800,226/07 to the government, which was payable as tax to TRA.

It is alleged that between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2018 in Dar es Salaam, being the Director of GMU Group Company Limited, with intent to evade tax, Urio submitted false tax returns to TRA, thereby evading tax of 4,265,882,773/-.

President Samia Suluhu ...

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Author: FAUSTINE KAPAMA

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