Tuesday, November 8, 2016

BoT nods to Swiss account probe

CENTRAL Bank has welcomed the investigations on business tycoons and government officials alleged to have stashed away billions of shillings in offshore accounts, calling for cautious inquiries. Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Minister Augustine Mahiga and Swiss Ambassador to Tanzania Florence Mattli signed an economic deal last week in Dar es Salaam to intensify efforts to track down on ill-gotten riches in offshore accounts. “We welcome this pact...it is a result of work we were involved with,” Bank of Tanzania (BoT) Governor Professor Beno Ndulu said in Dar es Salaam on Monday that  hinting that some amount of money was being kept for legally allowed purposes like correspondence banking. Professor Ndulu appreciated the newly signed pact, which he said will help in identifying and determining the legal and illegal savings. Dr Mahiga said on Monday this week in Dar es Salaam that Attorney General George Massaju has so far approved the agreement, which awaits ratification. “The pact entails a number of cooperation areas, including sharing of intelligence on economic crimes.” The minister promised to give an official statement detailing the key areas covered in the agreement, on Thursday this week. A report by the Swiss Central bank released in June 2012 and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) investigation on leaked files published in February 2015 exposed some corrupt Tanzanians, including prominent tycoons and some top government officials, who had secretly stashed away a whopping 315.5bn/- (196 million US dollars) and 205bn/- (114 million US dollars) in the Swiss banks, respectively. Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) Director General Valentino Mlowola described the new cooperation as vital in amplifying the government fight against corruption. “It will indeed shorten intelligence process into the matter,” he said. Opposition member of Parliament had for long criticised the authorities for not taking action including revealing names of Tanzanians hiding their illicit wealth in Swiss bank accounts as well as in other European countries. The latest report indicates that at least two to five new accounts were registered at the World’s second largest bank HSBC between 1988 and 2000. The detailed report shows some 60 out of the 286 accounts were linked to individuals, as offshore companies hold 20 accounts, with 20 other accounts just numbered. Swiss ambassador to Tanzania says the new agreement means Switzerland is ready to support Tanzania’s efforts in the fight against corruption.

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