17 May 2017

Tanzania: Halotel Principals in Hot Soup

The Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court in Dar es Salaam yesterday sentenced Viettel Tanzania Limited, its Managing Director, Do Manh Hong (44) and seven other foreigners to pay a total of 689m/- for occasioning loss to the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA).

This sum includes 459m/- of actual losses occasioned for fraudulent use of communication network and the rest relates to fines imposed after Principal Resident Magistrate Wilbard Mashauri convicted the accused persons on their own plea of guilty to several counts for which they stood charged.

Viettel Tanzania Limited, trading as Halotel, which is a mobile communications company providing voice, messaging, data and converged services in Tanzania had to save the day to rescue its managing director after undertaking to pay a total of 479m/- out of the total amount imposed.

The remaining amount of 210m/- will have to be borne out by other convicts. They are Dilshad Ahmed (36), Rohail Yaqoob (47), Khalid Mahmood (59), Ashfaq Ahmed (38), Muhamad Aneess (48), Imtiaz Ammar (33), who are Pakistan nationals, and a Sri-Lankan, Ramesh Kandasamy (36).

Delivering the sentence, the magistrate sent a strong message to foreign investors against engaging in malpractices in the communications industry.

Instead of investing for the betterment of the nation, they decided to sabotage the country's economy. He warned that nothing of the sort would be entertained.

The magistrate ordered each accused person to pay a fine of 5m/- for each of seven counts of importation and installation of electronic communication equipment without a licence, use of unapproved electronic equipment and operating electronic communications without a licence.

There was another charge against Viettel Tanzania Limited, namely, that of its Managing Director's failure to verify some information.

Apart from paying such fine, all the convicts were ordered to pay the losses occasioned to TCRA. Earlier, upon been convicted, Senior State Attorneys Jehovanase Zacharia, for the prosecution, had asked the court to provide severe sentences to the accused persons in order to deter other foreigners, who would be tempted to commit such crimes.

However, defence counsel Fatuma Seif and Samwel Shadrack, requested the court to provide lenient sentences to their clients because they were first offenders to face conviction in a criminal offence and that they had dependent families.

It was alleged that on diverse dates between November 2016 and February 2017 in the city, the accused persons unlawfully created a system designated to fraudulently use or obtain network service with intent to avoid rates payable for receiving or transmitting international incoming traffic.

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