Dar es Salaam. Opposition MPs on Friday raised concerns over incidences where the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has “negotiated terms” with accused persons in money laundering cases.
The MPs said the move signalled a worrying trend where the government could be turning laundering cases into a source of revenue, thus adversely effecting investment because some of the accused persons were investors.
That was revealed in Parliament as the MPs debated the 2019/20 budget proposals for the Ministry of State in the President’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Government) and that responsible for Public Service and Good Governance.
Kigoma Urban MP lawmaker Zitto Kabwe (ACT-Wazalendo) wanted the government to respond to the concerns.
He spoke after Muleba South MP (CCM) Anna Tibaijuka stressed that good governance entailed, among other things, law and justice.
She said, however, such entitlements were now lacking in the country. Debating the matter, Mr Kabwe said: “We [MPs] have been given revenue books where one can track the revenues that every government department has been receiving. When I checked the DPP’s office, I realised that last year it collected Sh23 billion from money laundering suspects, but such cases were resolved after negotiations with the DPP.”
“May I know what law grants the DPP powers to negotiate with the suspects and where this money goes and who audits this money?’
He cited a recent case involving Vodacom Tanzania CEO Hisham Hendi and other eight co-accused, saying the way the matter was handled left many questions unanswered. Mr Hendi and other co-accused were on April 3 charged with eight counts including that of leading a criminal network and occasioning a loss of Sh5.8 billion to the government. They were released after negotiations with the DPP to pay a fines and compensation of Sh6 billion.
Later, Vodacom Tanzania released a press statement saying it had agreed with DPP to amicably resolve the matter.
“Following discussions with relevant authorities and in a concerted effort to resolve the situation, Vodacom Tanzania has reached an agreement with the Director of Public Prosecutions for the five detained employees to be released,” reads the statement.
The report further said the agreement included a payment of Sh5.280 billion by Vodacom Tanzania in order to settle charges initiated by the DPP.
“We pleaded guilty, we had a plea bargain with the Director of Public Prosecutions and we pleaded guilty,” said Vodacom Tanzania Corporate Affairs director Rosalynn Mworia.
The company said it has now appointed a law firm to review the charges. “In accordance with international best practice, Vodacom Group and Vodafone Group Plc have retained the highly respected global law firm, Squire Patton Boggs, to conduct an internal review into the facts underlying the charges,” Vodacom Tanzania said in a statement on Thursday
Mr Kabwe strongly criticised that querying where the DPP got powers to negotiate with accused to “amicably resolve the case on condition of paying fines”.