Kikwete: Britain ready to help Tanzania get back radar cashBy Correspondent
President Jakaya Kikwete has asked the British government to hand over to the Tanzanian government the 29.5bn/- BAE Systems Plc it agreed to pay as part of its plea bargain settlement with Serious Frauds Office (SFO) over bilking allegations on a 2002 radar sale.
This was said by Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation minister Bernard Membe at a press conference held in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
Membe said that the president had said that the money belongs to all Tanzanians, and should rightly be returned to a government of their representatives.
He added that the British government has not refused to give the radar money to the Tanzania government, but cautioned against media reports that point to the contrary.
He singled out reports that claim that the money will be given back to Tanzania through a nongovernmental organizations as untrue.
“These are silly words that have no truth in them,” the minister said, adding, “I want to tell you that the money belongs to the citizens of this country, and have to come back to their government.”
Membe said: “The UK government has agreed to work with us to get the cash back”.
For his part, Henry Bellingham, UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Responsible for Africa promised that he will take up the issue with higher authorities back in Britain.
“I spoke to President Kikwete (and) he raised the issue of BAE,” Bellingham said, adding, “It is a big case but I agreed to take it up with (the UK) government through my office.”
Back in 2002, the European defence contractor sold the Tanzanian government military radar it valued at 52bn/- then, which was later found to be excessive.
Subsequently, the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) made an investigation into the purchase following allegation that a 16bn/- ‘commission fee’ paid to a third party might have been bribes to top government officials.
A British Court later established that BAE Systems failed to keep proper records of this transaction, and directed a fine of GBP 500,000.
“The victims of this way of obtaining business, if I have correctly analysed it, are not the people of the UK, but the people of Tanzania,” said British Justice David Bean of Southwark Crown Court in his sentencing notes.
As part of a plea bargain deal between BAE Systems and the UK’s SFO, the defence contractor offered the Tanzanian government 29.5bn/- as settlement for allegedly overcharging the state for the radar in question.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN