IPTL kingpins hit by fresh money laundering charges

04Jul 2017
Crispin Gerald
The Guardian
IPTL kingpins hit by fresh money laundering charges
  • Denied bail again, along with TFF top officials in separate embezzlement case

THE economic sabotage case facing IPTL main protagonists Harbinder Sethi and James Rugemarila yesterday took another new twist after prosecutors brought six more charges against them involving money laundering, effectively ending any slim chances they might have had of   being granted bail.

 

The new charges were read to the duo before senior magistrate Huruma Shahidi at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in Dar es Salaam under sections 12(e) and 13(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering Act No. 12 of 2006, bringing the total number of charges against them to 12. 

It was alleged that on diverse dates between November 29, 2013 and January 23, 2014, at different places within Dar es Salaam city and region, they conspired to acquire from the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) a total of $22 million and 309 billion/- while knowing that the money was the proceeds of participation in an organized criminal group and racketeering. 

The money was acquired separately by the two from Stanbic Bank Tanzania ‘s Kinondoni branch and Mkombozi Commercial Bank’s St Joseph’s Cathedral branch, both in the city.

Sethi is furthermore charged with transferring 1.3 million South African rand to account number 022655123 at Standard Bank Land Rover in Sandton, Johannesburg while knowing that the money was the proceeds of participation in an organized criminal group and racketeering. 

Sethi and Rugemalira are prime suspects in the infamous Independent Power Tanzania Limited (IPTL) escrow account scandal which took Tanzania by storm in 2014.  They were initially arraigned in court on June 18 to answer charges related to economic sabotage, grand corruption and other crimes that caused the government to suffer losses of $22.19 million and 309.4 billion/-  over the scandal.  The National Assembly endorsed resolutions back in September 2014 for all key suspects behind the scandal to be taken to court. 

The scandal led Western donors to delay crucial aid disbursements to the country.It resulted in the resignations of two cabinet ministers, the then attorney general, and sackings of several other top government officials.

Sethi is the much disputed owner of IPTL through his Pan African Power Solutions (PAP) company, and Rugemalira through his VIP Engineering company is a former shareholder of the independent power producer.Sethi is also alleged to have forged documents purporting to show that he is a Tanzanian citizen, while he is a foreign national.

They have not been allowed to enter any plea and were yesterday sent back to remand prison until the next case mention on July 14.

According to Prevention and Combating of Corruption (PCCB) boss Valentine Mlowola, the case will eventually be transferred to the Economic, Corruption and Organised Crime Court for hearing.

The defence side yesterday did not make any submissions to challenge the new charges against their clients. Meanwhile, magistrate Shahidi warned the accused from challenging the court decisions in local media, saying this is against the law as the court is a mandatory organ for justice under the constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania.

In another case at the same court, Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) president Jamal Malinzi and two others were yesterday again denied bail over charge3sd brought against them of forgery and money laundering.

They have been sent back to remand prison until July 17 when their case comes up for mention again. 

The decision to deny them bail was reached by the court despite arguments presented by the defense side that the accused persons be released for now and brought back to court once investigations are complete.     

Malinzi is charged along with TFF secretary general Celestine Mwesigwa and one Nsiande Isawafo Mwanga. 

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