24 October 2008

Tanzania: Court Told of Forged Contract

The former Tanzania ambassador to Italy, Prof Costa Mahalu, produced a forged contract to the corruption watchdog, a Dar es Salaam court was told yesterday.

Mr Isidori Kyando, a senior investigative officer with the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), made this affirmation when testifying before the Kisutu resident magistrate's court in relation to the over euro two million theft case.

The case involves the former ambassador and Grace Martin who served in Rome as a counsellor.

Sivangilwa Mwangesi, the senior deputy registrar of the Court of Appeal who is hearing the case, heard from the PCCB official that he and another investigator had ascertained that the contract was not proper.

Mr Kyando said himself and a colleague were conducting investigation regarding the purchase of an embassy building in Rome.

Prof Mahalu and his colleague had in the course of investigation produced various documents regarding the purchasing of the building along with a contract purporting to show that the value of the building was euro 3,098,741.80, the official noted.

The contract produced by Prof Mahalu differed with one that was provided to them by a public notary of the Italian goverment Mr Marco Papi, where the actual value of the purchasing the building was Euro 1,032,827.60, he said.

The witness said the public notary told investigators he had no knowledge of the second contract provided to the investigators by the embassy officials.

The public notary affirmed that Italian law proscribes having two contracts for purchasing a building and that a contract is one and must be prepared by a public notary like himself, the PCCB official specified.

"Only one contract for purchasing a building that was prepared by a public notary was valid, and on the basis of the valid contract, the value of the building was euro 1,032,827.60," the court was told.

He said that the contract from Prof Mahalu and his co-accused showed that it had not been passed to the public notary or any other witness than Prof Mahalu and the seller of the building.

Investigations along with various exhibits made the PCCB satisfied that Prof Mahalu and the other accused used the second contract to embezzle large sums of money.

Prof Mahalu wrote to the Chief Secretary stating that the value of the building was three million euro and they were already agreed with the seller that the money should be paid in two installments, the investigator pursued.

Euro 1,032,913.70 would be paid first and euro 2,065,827.56 be paid up later, wih the money sent to two different accounts, he further stated .

Upon interrogation, the two accused said they obtained permission from Chief Secretary Matern Lumbanga but he refused to give them permission to proceed with the transaction, he added.

The hearing of the case continues on October 31.

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