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Mramba: Mkapa directed BoT on assayer

23rd August 2012
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Accused in an abuse of case, former ministers Basil Mramba and Daniel Yona and former Treasury permanent secretary Gray Mgonja follow the proceedings of the case in a Kisutu Resident Magistrate`s courtroom in Dar es Salaam yesterday.

Former Finance Minister Basil Mramba yesterday told the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court that President Benjamin Mkapa ordered the Bank of Tanzania to seek a contractor to audit the gold mines.

Mramba made the revelation when giving his defense testimony before a panel of three magistrates, led by John Utamwa and including Saul Kinemela and Sam Rumanyika.

Led by his lawyer Hubert Nyange, Mramba said the BOT secured the contractor Alex Stewart (Assayers) Government Business Corporation (ASA) Company to carry out the audit.

He said that the entire procurement exercise was made by the governor who endorsed the said Alex Stewart Company.

He added that he did not take part in the procurement, except implement the other things which needed to be settled once the contractor arrived in the country.

Mramba said BOT used competitive bidding by advertising through worldwide networks whereby a number of companies applied, but only two companies were selected, with Alex Stewart being awarded the tender.

He said the contract was signed by the late Governor Daudi Balali and the Executive Vice President of the Assayers Elain Florence.

He said Balali signed the agreement using his powers as governor and on directives from the President.

Mramba and two others are charged with failing to take reasonable care to discharge their duties by unjustifiably signing government notices that led to the loss of the said amount of money.

Daniel Yona was by then Minister for Energy and Minerals and Gray Mgonja former treasury principal permanent secretary.

Mramba and Yona who served during President Benjamin Mkapa's administration, are accused jointly with Mgonja, former Treasury permanent secretary of occasioning the loss of 11,752,350,148/- through tax exemptions.

The case was instituted following three years of investigations by the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) and the police into the suspicious hiring of Alex Stewart (Assayers) Government Business Corporation (ASA) to audit gold production in Tanzania.

Alex Stewart (Assayers) was in 2003 controversially assigned a contract which saw it receive a whopping 65bn/- (USD 50 million) in gold audit fees. It completed the assignment and left the country in August, 2007.

The ASA was paid an average of 1.3bn/- (USD1 million) every month from June 2003 to August, 2007.

Mramba added that they intended to call nine witnesses three of whom will bring the exhibits to court.

Among the witnesses are representative from Alex Stewart

Florence, former Attorney General Andrew Chenge, Governor of BOT or any person who shall be appointed and Chairman of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee.

Hearing continues today.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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