‘Swiss Billions’ investigation complete: BoT

20Jan 2016
Felister Peter
The Guardian
‘Swiss Billions’ investigation complete: BoT

THE Bank of Tanzania (BoT) has completed investigations on individuals believed to have stashed billions of shillings in offshore banks, the Guardian has learnt.

Zitto Kabwe

In 2012, the National Assembly tasked the government to conduct thorough investigation to establish the names of Tanzanian personalities holding 13trn/- in offshore bank accounts.

“Findings of the report on ‘Swiss Billions’ will be handed over to relevant state organs for further action”, BoT Governor, Benno Ndulu told the Guardian in Dar es Salaam yesterday.

According to the Governor, the central bank will not present the report to the National Assembly but interested parties including lawmakers are allowed to use parts of the BoT findings in the august House.

The anticipated report is expected to reveal who owns the money in foreign bank accounts and steps to retrieve ill-gotten wealth back into the country.

The major objective of the investigation was to establish if the opening of the accounts followed proper procedures, and whether the money so stashed accrued legally.

The government agreed to carry out the assignment following fierce debate over a private motion tabled by Zitto Kabwe who was the MP for Kigoma North (Chadema).

According to the document that Zitto used when tabling his private motion in Parliament there was evidence that some top government officials and businessmen benefited a lot from such deals.

Zitto claimed to have all the documents to support his claims and promised to adduce them to the select committee. He said the money amounting to 13trn/- was stashed away in foreign accounts abroad including New Jersey Island, Mauritius, Cayman Islands and Switzerland.

Zitto cited the Global Financial Integrity (GFI) report of 2008 which stated that a total of US $8 billion—enough to offset the public debt by 80 per cent—had been stashed abroad between 1970 and 2008.

Zitto’s document provided further that Germany and the United States managed to buy CDs from former Swiss bank officials before they learnt that there were some individuals who had stashed money away into Swiss banks in order to evade tax.

That event prompted Germany to enter into a special agreement with the Swiss government to facilitate an exchange of financial details of individuals with accounts in Switzerland for tax remittance purposes.
In March last year, the Attorney General, George Masaju was quoted saying findings of the report were to be tabled in the parliament in April, 2015.

The development on the alleged hidden cash comes amid a new report by Oxfam International which shows that thirty per cent of all African financial wealth is held in offshore banking, costing an estimated $14billion (30.8trillion/-) in lost tax revenues every year.
It says that in South Africa, the continent’s economic superpower, the inequality is particularly staggering –with just two men owning the same amount of wealth as the poorest half of the over 50 million population.
Commenting, Kigoma Urban legislator Zitto Kabwe urged the government to make the reports public. He said the move would help authorities to take stern measures to curb the vice.
“…of illicit financial flows harms the economy” said the MP insisting that as a country we have to deal with the issue as a matter of urgency.
Zitto who is the National Leader for ACT-Wazalendo said that when he was chairing the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) he directed the Central Bank to conduct a study on the issue of illicit financial flows.
The report isn't made available publicly and I wish it was” he said.
He said the parliament has previously directed formation of a task force to probe the matter but yet the report is not public
Going by the report, the richest 10 per cent of the South African population had an income of $69 billion by 2011, while the poorest 50 per cent had an income of $11 billion. Five million still mainly White people were now earning six times more than 25 million mainly Black people, it notes.
The report further reveals that two White men – Johan Rupert and Nicky Oppenheimer – owned the same amount of wealth as the poorest 50 per cent of the population last year, even as the group noted that this referred to “asset and not income inequality”.
It says getting hold of the proper level of taxes will be “vital” if world leaders are to meet their goal of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030, as set last September.
It said the number of people living in extreme poverty halved between 1990 and 2010 but the average annual income of the poorest 10 per cent has risen by less than $3-a-year in the past quarter of a century. This represents an increase in individuals’ income of less than one percent a year.

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