Monday, December 22, 2014

Escrow saga: More demand for severe punishment against offenders

Two days after the Attorney General Fredrick Werema announced his resignation over the allegations on the controversial Escrow saga leveled against him, eight civil society organizations have called on severe punishment to be imposed against the offenders. The organizations are Policy Forum, Tanzania Coalition on Debt and Development, ACTIVISTA, Tanzania Youth Vision Association, SIKIKA, Action Aid Tanzania, HakiElimu and Youth Partnership Countrywide. In their joint statement released on Thursday last week in Dar es Salaam this week, they have asked the government to take serious legal actions as recommended in the Parliamentary resolutions over the matter three weeks ago. Among the resolutions, Members of Parliament resolved among other things that the government should bring to task all those involved in the pillaging of the Tegeta Escrow account (TEA). But according to a joint statement, the wrong doers have abused their office power which has resulted into theft of public funds, a move that has shamed the nation. The statement further says that, the government should demand the immediate and transparent repayment of all escrow monies paid fraudulently to the Pan Africa Power Solutions Tanzania’s (PAP) plus interest, and to implement Parliament’s recommendations to resolve the IPTL affair for the public interest. 

Tanzania's Attorney General Fredrick Werema  who resigned last week

The call by civil organizations has come at a time when the general public is anxiously waiting to see what President Jakaya Kikwete would rule out over government’s officials implicated in the Escrow saga, The civil organizations had gone through both reports of the National Audit Office (NAO) and the one of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which was read during the Parliamentary debate which ended in late November 2014, and is satisfied with the contents highlighted. The forum is surprised by the way how the TEA funds were transferred from the Bank of Tanzania (BOT) to private banks, and subsequently to individual bank accounts. These acts manifest a lack of due diligence on the part of the parties concerned, the statement said. The statement further says that, if those involved in this scandal are not held accountable for their abuse of power and the theft of public money, it will be a continuation of the nation’s systemic weaknesses related to prosecution of leaders shown to have been involved in corrupt practices. The public is growing increasingly angry and offended by these acts of grand corruption, the manner in which those accused of corruption defend their actions, and the apparent impunity of those involved. Under the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2006, all banks and financial institutions should take reasonable due diligence measures to identify politically exposed persons, to establish the source of their funds and to monitor them. The IPTL scandal represents a serious crisis in the legitimacy of the Government of Tanzania that can only be resolved by strong leadership and decisive action to bring closure to the long-drawn out IPTL saga once and for all, the statement concludes.  Following the anxiety by the public who earlier were informed of the president’s decision over the matter this week, efforts by this paper to contact the Chief Secretary of State Ombeni Sefue for clarifications proved futile as the State’s telephone number was engaged.

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