The scandal that kept ex-TRA boss Kitilya behind bars for 4 years
The scandal that kept ex-TRA boss behind bars for 4 years
By Bernard James @TheCitizenTz firstname.lastname@example.org
Dar es Salaam. Former Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) commissioner general Harry Kitilya, 70, and four other people breathed fresh air yesterday after languishing in remand prison for four years in one of Tanzania’s high profile and dramatic Sh12 billion ($6 million) bribery scandal.
The Corruption and Economic Crimes Division of the High Court declared Kitilya, the 1996 Miss Tanzania and former head of Investment Banking with Stanbic bank, Shose Senare, and former chief legal officer to the bank Sioi Sumari free after they entered a plea bargain agreement with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to pay a whopping Sh1.5 billion for their freedom.
Others who walked free were two senior officials of the ministry of Finance-- Bedason Shallanda and Alfred Misana, who also entered a plea bargaining arrangement with the DPP.
The court ordered them to jointly pay Sh1.5 billion on plea bargaining agreement and additional Sh1 million each to secure their freedom for causing the government a $6 million in losses.
Plea bargaining was introduced in the country last year and has mostly been the avenue for suspects in mega corruption cases to escape full trial.
The four pleaded guilty of causing the $6 million loss to the government before Lady Justice Immaculate Banzi.
They were facing charges of forgery, uttering false information and fraudulently obtaining $6 million (about Sh12 billion) which was paid to them as a kickback in facilitating the securing of the $600 million foreign loan by the government of Tanzania.
Mr Kitilya’s firm, Enterprise Growth Markets Advisors (EGMA), was allegedly paid the over Sh12 billion bribe in the loan transaction.
How it started
The lucrative loan facilitation deal that would lead high profile bribery scam started with an idea in the US between Mr Kitilya and Ms Sinare during a meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington in April, 2012, and had conversation on government financing.
The two later took their dream to a top level, playing key roles in securing a $600 million foreign loan for the government and opening a can of worms over mega corruption in the country.
After the Washington meeting in which both attended as part of a government delegation, Ms Sinare allegedly boasted to fellow staff that Mr Kitilya introduced her to two African central bank governors who convinced her bank to consider the business of raising funds for the government.
Details of what followed came to the limelight following investigations by UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) that exposed how the 2013 government loan was used to create the Sh12 billion bribery conduit that benefited public and private corporate executives.
Details from SFO show how Ms Sinare and Mr Kitilya’s EGMA, the firm that was paid the Sh12 billion in bribe in the loan transaction, facilitated behind-the-scene talks to secure the deal.
Who played what role
SFO which carried out the corruption investigation involving Stanbic and its main unity, Standard Bank’s role, revealed a link between individuals who were central to the deal and how they may have influenced it.
Other than the former TRA chief who played a camouflage role as EGMA coprincipal, the negotiations were handled at either stage by former finance minister Mustafa Mkulo, his successor William Mgimwa, former Finance permanent secretary Ramadhan Khijja, former finance permanent secretary Dr Servacius Likwelile, and other senior treasury officials.
The two officials of the Ministry of Finance, Bedason Shallanda, who was the commissioner for Policy Analysis-Debts and Alfred Misana, the assistant commissioner for Policy Analysis-Debts were joined in the case in January, 2019.
The two officials were jointly facing one count of use of documents intended to mislead the principal with the additional charge of leading organized crime, one count of money laundering, obtaining money by false pretences and occasioning loss to the government.
Court documents show that the two officials acted on documents containing false statement to show that Stanbic Bank (Tanzania) Limited in collaboration with Standard Bank London, would raise the loan of $550 million for the government of Tanzania at an agreement fee of 2.4 percent of the principal amount.
They were also accused of using the Standard Bank’s Financing Proposal with the intention of misleading the government.
Sioi together with Mr Kitilya and Ms Sinare, allegedly prepared a false agreement dated November 5, 2012 purporting to show that the bank has established a consortium to collaborate with EGMA Limited to arrange for the financing of the money.
The former taxman and the ex-officials of Stanbic Bank, Ms Sinare and Sioi were arraigned on April 1, 2016 and they have since been languishing in jail for facing the unbailable money laundering charge.
In a dramatic turn of events, the DPP dropped all charges against Kitilya and two co-accused in January last year and filed a new case with 58 new charges against them.
They have appeared at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court over 72 times when the case against them was called for mention, hearing of applications and rulings.
Yesterday, Lady Justice Banzi said she considered submissions of both parties and the plea bargain agreement and its execution mode and ordered each of the accused to pay Sh1 million in court and another Sh1.5 billion to be paid jointly.
The plea bargaining agreement between the accused and the DPP was filed in court on Monday for registration.
The agreement, among other things, exonerated the accused of 57 out of 58 counts they face but sustained one charge of causing Sh$6 million loss to the government, of which the accused pleaded guilty and ordered to pay Sh1.5 billion.
The accused took an oath before the judge questioned them on the voluntariness of the agreement and if they have read them through and understood its stated terms.
The agreement also means the accused denied themselves the right to have their case heard to the end and decided on merits and the right to appeal on the same.
Under the agreement, the accused may face fresh charges in return for a guilty plea if it is discovered that they have given false information. All the accused agreed to the terms of the contract.
Details of the plea bargain were not made known to the public as the matter is completely a private process.
Yesterday, DPP Biswalo Mganga represented the Republic in person and asked the court to order the accused to pay a Sh1.5 billion compensation for the loss they have caused to the government as agreed in the plea bargain.
“All the accused, have pleaded guilty to the charges. This court has convicted them all for pleading guilty of causing a $6 million loss to the government,” said Lady Justice Banzi.
Lead defence counsel Alex Mgongolwa pleaded with the court to give a lenient punishment considering the accused have confessed to the offences to save court time and government resources.
He added that Mr Kitilya, with 70 years of age, had underlying health conditions and that the accused who have spent over four years behind bars have families depending on them.