We will not cave in to foreign pressure, vows PCCB
Wednesday, 30 November 2011
Dr Edward Hoseah
Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau director general
Dar es Salaam. As a cross-party parliamentary group in Britain urges the Tanzanian government to prosecute people implicated in corruption over the sale of a BAE Systems air traffic control package, the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) yesterday said it was not subject to foreign pressure.
A UK House of Commons committee has also said that it was appalled to find that the compensation for the radar, which was sold to Tanzania at an increased price several years ago, had not been paid.BAE Systems says it is now working with the Department for International Development (DFID) on how the money should be spent once given to the Tanzanian government.
But commenting on the development yesterday, Dr Edward Hoseah, the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) director general said his office has not received any communication from the UK Parliament over the issue.But he said he has heard about their remarks which he termed as confusing since it was a UK court which handled the case and failed to find any Tanzanian liable of an offence in the scandal.
Reached for comments, the minister of State responsible for Good Governance, Mr Mathias Chikawe, directed this paper to seek clarification from the Attorney General’s chamber and Director of Public Prosecutions’ office.
Speaking to The Citizen yesterday, Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Eliezer Feleshi, said his office would not hesitate to take anyone to court if there is enough evidence to successfully prosecute the case.
“Let them furnish us with the evidence which we will use to prosecute and obtain a guilty verdict,” he said.
Mr Feleshi said PCCB has been investigating the issue and his office would not rush to send someone to court without enough evidence to prove the allegations.
“If they (British) provide us with concrete evidence, then we shall know what to do because going to court needs having enough evidence on the matter,” Mr Feleshi said.In July this year, the government announced that it intended to pursue legal action against culprits of the multi-billion shilling radar purchase scandal, even after the UK-based BAE Systems agreed to pay Tanzania £29.5m (Sh73.8billion) as compensation.
The government’s commitment was announced in Parliament by the minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr Bernard Membe, when winding up his ministry’s budget debate.“We know who were involved in the deal and we have instructed the responsible government organs to probe them… we will prosecute them even if BAE Systems pays the refund,” he said.
Meanwhile, the £29.5 million settlement from BAE Systems has yet to be paid to Tanzania due to major flaws in the way the plea bargain with the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was arranged. This is according to a report from the UK House of Commons International Development Committee released yesterday.
Eight months after court proceedings ended in December 2010, the payment had still not been made, in part because BAE was not sure that the money would be used legitimately and had not been given guidance on how best to use it, the committee said.
The company had admitted there was “improper book-keeping” in relation to payments made to an adviser on the deal, Mr Shailesh Vithlani, who received millions of pounds for his part in negotiations. Civil society groups alleged that Vithlani used the money to bribe officials and secure the contracts. The company was not found guilty of corruption offences relating to the sale.
BAE was fined £500,000 and agreed to pay £29.5m as refund money but the absence of an arrangement on how and when the money should be released meant that the company was able to defer making payments following a request by the Tanzanian government - endorsed by the UK’s DFID - that the capital be put into the country’s education budget.
Under pressure from the select committee, BAE finally decided to accept the proposal in August 2011. The company has set the money aside and is awaiting DFID’s go-ahead to disburse it, a spokesperson said.
“In July, we proposed to make the payment in full to the government of Tanzania,” the company said in a statement, adding:
“We are actively working with the Department for International Development to ensure the payment is made in accordance with their procedures, including their requirement for a memorandum of understanding to cover the arrangement and we remain ready to make the payment as soon as DFIDs indicate that we can do so. We look forward to bringing the matter to a conclusion.”