December 10, 2003

ZAMBIA: Ex-President Chiluba faces trial for corruption

The trial in which former Republican President Frederick Chiluba is charged with theft amounting to US-$29 million has begun in the Lusaka magistrate court. Those charged with him are former intelligence chief Xavier Chungu, ex-Finance permanent secretary Stella Chibanda, suspended chief economist Bede Mpande, former Zambia's ambassador to United States Attan Shansonga and ex-Access Finance services directors Faustine Kabwe and Aaron Chungu.

In general, Mr Chiluba is charged with the theft during his 10 years in office. The prosecution alleges that this is merely the tip of the iceberg - investigators believe millions more were laundered and re-directed into private accounts and property they have not yet found. Over the last year, thousands of hours have been spent uncovering what the prosecution has described as a highly organised network, through which the former administration is said to have bled the national treasury. In this trial, it is alleged that money was diverted from the Ministry of Finance into an account held at the London branch of the Zambia National Commercial Bank (Zanaco). Mr Chiluba has previously denied the allegations of theft against him by saying they were politically motivated. (The Times of Zambia, Ndola)

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