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Accused in 1bn/- SGR fraud charges enter plea of not guilty

THE over 1bn/-economic sabotage and abuse of position trial surrounding the implementation of Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) Line Project yesterday entered a new development, when the accused allegedly involved in the matter, entered a plea of not guilty.

Before the Kisutu Resident Magistrates’ Court in Dar es Salaam, the accused were former Director General with Reli Assets Holding Company (Rahco), engineer Benhadard Tito, businessman Kanji Mwinyijuma and ex- Rahco Company Secretary Emanuel Massawe.

The trio were arraigned for the first time in connection with the charges, which fall under the Economic and Organised Crime Control Act, on March 14, 2016. However, they were not allowed to enter any plea to the charges against them.

This is because under the law, all economic cases, especially those with monetary value exceeding 10m/- are triable by the High Court and lower courts could hear such cases upon securing consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

In the case, the DPP entered his consent, allowing the lower court to hear the case on January 28, 2019, after completing investigation. Such a position allowed Principal Resident Magistrate Thomas Simba to direct the prosecution counsel to read afresh the charges for the accused to enter the plea

Having the accused denied the charges the magistrate adjourned the case to March 13, 2019, when the court is set to conduct preliminary hearing.

During the session, the prosecution expected to produce more facts showing how the accused committed the offences. The magistrate ordered the accused to remain in remand pending trial. Reading the charges, the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) prosecutor Magela Ndimbo told the court that the accused were alleged to have committed the offences between 2014 and 2015.

The accused are charged with conspiracy, abuse of position and occasioning over 1bn/- loss in transactions relating to upgrading of the railway line.

They allegedly conspired to commit the offences under the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Act between September 1, 2004 and September 30, 2015. It is alleged that on February 27, 2015, at Rahco offices in Ilala District, while discharging his duties, being the Managing Director of the Company, Tito intentionally abused his position by procuring Rothschild (South Africa) Proprietary Limited.

According to the prosecution, such company was procured as transaction adviser for a project to upgrade the central line corridor railway in Tanzania by a single source method without the approval of the Rahco Tender Board, an act which was in violation of the Procurement Act.

Between March 12 and May 20, 2015, at Rahco offices, Tito and Massawe allegedly abused their positions by signing a letter for appointing the South African company and failing to submit consultancy services contract between the company and Rahco to the Attorney General for vetting.

The two accused, between May 20 and June 20, 2015, at Rahco offices, allegedly abused their positions by signing a consultancy agreement and failing to submit copies to the Attorney General, Controller and Auditor General, Internal Auditor General and Tanzania Revenue Authority.

Between March 1 and September 30, 2015, at Rahco offices, by their wilful acts, all the three accused procured consultancy services from Rothschild (South Africa) Proprietary Limited, which was not rendered, thereby causing loss of $527,540, which was paid as advance.

Tito was charged with an additional count of abuse of his position that on August 18, 2015, he allegedly awarded China Railway Construction Corporation construction work of 2km of Standard Gauge Railway Line in Soga worth $2,312,229.39 without the approval of the Rahco Tender Board.

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Author: FAUSTINE KAPAMA

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