AN investigation is underway to recover Commodity Import Support (CIS) outstanding loans worth over 300bn/-, in a financial tale that involves several high-profile businessmen.
The task force led by state investigation agencies under Ministry of Finance, is presently working on the matter to ensure a recoup of the CIS funds from unscrupulous businessmen.
Impeccable sources mentioned some of the CIS funds recipients as Mr Chandulal Walji and Mr Dhirajlal Walji, who were recently summoned for grilling regarding the unrepaid loans.
No more details were given on the matter, but there are claims suggesting that all person benefited from the loans have been ordered to pay up their outstanding loans or face legal actions.
Some prominent lawyers are also under scrutiny for allegedly aiding the culprits in the decades-long financial saga.
Over the past few decades, the government has unsuccessfully tried to recover the CIS funds. Government’s efforts included appointing a private debt collector but the response has been unsatisfactory.
The fifth-phase government has reaffirmed commitment to recover the outstanding public funds issued as loans to private companies under the Commodity Import Support (CIS) scheme over 30 years ago.
Between 1980 and 2000, Tanzania received some funds from development partners under the CIS programme to help the private sector import commodities in the wake of serious shortage of foreign currencies that had hit the country.
Several high-profile business tycoons jumped to the opportunity and took advantage of the scheme by securing billions of shillings, however, they never repaid the funds.
More than 980 companies are said to have received the CIS funds under the scheme.
According to reports, the scheme was initially administered by the Finance Ministry, but as from September 2002 the matter was moved to the Tanzania Investment Bank (TIB) for better management.
On June 24, 2019, the Ilala District Court in Dar es Salaam convicted businessman Chandulal Walji of corrupt transaction for giving 200,000/- bribe to the Head of Legal Department of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) and slapped him with a threeyear jail sentence.
Resident Magistrate Samwel Obas also gave the businessman, who resides at Sea View area along Kimara Street, an alternative sentence of paying 600,000/- fine instead of serving the custodian sentence. Walji paid the fine in eleventh hours to escape the jail term.
The two businessmen were also arraigned at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in Dar es Salaam in July 2019, facing 21 fraud counts, including money laundering and obtaining over 2bn/-from TIB Corporate Bank by false pretences.
Other charges against them were conspiracy to commit an offence and forgery of documents. They denied the charges before Principal Resident Magistrate Janeth Mtega.
The magistrate ordered them to go to remand because the money laundering offence is not bailable. In the course of the criminal proceedings, the two businessmen requested to enter into plea bargaining agreement with the prosecution, a request which was subsequently accepted.
Thereafter, the duo pleaded guilty to one consolidated charge on October 25, 2019, as per the agreement.
While having pleaded guilty and took oath to repay the money involved, including writing personal letters from prison as directed by the government to qualify for presidential amnesty, the charges against the businessmen were dropped and subsequently released.