Tanzania: Court Orders Acquisition of Mutual Legal Assistance

KISUTU Resident Magistrate's Court has ordered the prosecution to expedite the process of acquiring mutual legal assistance from abroad to complete investigations into 10tril/-trial of seven people, including senior officials with four subsidiary companies of the defunct Acacia Mining Limited.

Senior Resident Magistrate, Kelvin Mhina gave the order on Friday when the fraud, tax evasion and money laundering trial came for mention before the Dar es Salaam Court.

"I am aware that you told this court that the local investigations have been completed," the magistrate reminded the prosecution.

He was, however, quick to point out that what has remained in the mutual legal assistance the prosecution was seeking to obtain from some foreign countries in order to complete the investigations into trial.

"Long time has passed since you introduced this issue. Please complete the process," he said.

The magistrate was reacting to a concern by the defence that the prosecution's request to be given more time to wait some countries abroad to respond to the mutual legal assistance sought has been there for a long time and it was time for them to leave such matter so that the case could proceed.

Earlier, Senior State Attorney Wankyo Simon, for the prosecution, had requested the court for more time to complete the investigations as certain foreign countries have not responded to the mutual legal assistant on areas the prosecution had applied for.

"We have not yet received the responses. Under the circumstance, we request this court to set another mention date as the investigations for that matter have not been completed," the trial attorney submitted.

The magistrate granted the request and adjourned the trial to November 22, 2019. A mutual legal assistance treaty is an agreement between two or more countries of gathering and exchanging information in an effort to enforce public or criminal laws.

Modern states have developed mechanisms for requesting and obtaining evidence for criminal investigations and prosecutions.

When evidence or other forms of legal assistance, such as witness statements or service of documents, are needed from a foreign sovereign, states may attempt to cooperate informally through their police agencies or, alternatively, resort to what is typically referred to as requests for "mutual legal assistance."

The accused persons into the matter include President of Pangea Minerals Limited, Bulyanhulu Gold Mine Limited and North Mara Gold Mine Limited, as well as Exploration Minieres Du Nord LTEE, Deogratias Mwanyika and Managing Director of the three companies Asa Mwaipopo.

Others are Bulyanhulu Company's Relations Manager Alex Lugendo and the four mineral dealer companies. They are facing a total of 39 counts of conspiracy to commit offences, leading organised crime, forgery of documents and uttering false documents.

The other charges include corrupt transaction, tax evasion of 918,464,427 US dollars (about 1,8tril/-) and money laundering totaling 3,791,194,540 US dollars (about 7.4tril/-).

It is alleged that the accused persons committed the offences between April 2004 and July 2018 at various places in Dar es Salaam, Shinyanga, Mara and Kagera in Tanzania and various places in South Africa, Canada, in Bardados Island and in United Kingdom (UK).

Within the same period and places, Mwanyika, Lugendo and Mwipopo with other persons not in court are alleged to have knowingly furnished assistance in the management of business of a criminal racket with intent to reap profit or other benefits.

The same accused persons are charged with forging two loan agreements and a loan confirmation statement purporting Pangea Mineral Limited agreed to borrow 90 million US dollars with interests from Barrick International Bank Corp and Exploration Minieres Du Nord LTEE.

It is alleged further that the accused persons also purported to show that Exploration Minieres Du Nord LTEE secured a loan amounting to 6,744,974.62 US dollars from the bank, while they knew such transactions were false.

Within the same period and places, Mwanyika, Lugendo and Mwipopo and other persons not in court, allegedly counseled and facilitated the four mineral companies to acquire or transfer a total of 1,896,007,270 US dollars, which is the proceeds of predicate offences of forgery and tax evasion.

The prosecution alleged that the mineral companies, jointly and together with other persons not in court, acquired and directly engaged in transactions involving the said amount, while they knew or ought to know that such property was the proceeds forgery and tax evasion offences.

It was alleged that between April and December 2008 in Dar es Salaam, Mara, Kagera and Shinyanga Regions, all accused persons jointly and together with other persons not in court, evaded to pay a total of 918,464,427 US dollars as withholding tax to the Tanzania Revenue Authority Commissioner General.

Mwanyika, Lugendo and Bulyanhulu Gold Mine were charged with an additional count of corrupt transaction, an offence allegedly committed between November 2, 2012 and November 27, 2015 at various places within the city of Dar es Salaam in the United Republic of Tanzania.

The court heard that the three accused persons, jointly and together with other persons not in court, gave 718,520,001/76 as corruption to Hussein Kashindye, the then Regional Crime Officer of Shinyanga Region by depositing the amount into his account maintained at NMB Bank, Kibondo Branch.

Such bribe, the prosecution further alleged, was an inducement to Kashindye for him to forebear investigation of criminal activities committed by Bulyanhulu Gold Mine.

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