August 20, 2011

New squad to repossess ill-gotten wealth planned

Tanzania is planning to repossess assets obtained through criminal means starting in August, after the law establishing the Assets Recovery and Forfeiture Unit came into force on July 1. The legislation governs the freezing, forfeiture and restitution of the assets of local and foreign businessmen and politically exposed persons (PEPs) in cases where a request for mutual assistance cannot succeed in the requesting state due to the failure of its judicial system. President Jakaya Kikwete has authorised the creation of a department for the recovery and return of properties obtained through criminal acts, after conviction of the culprits in a court of law. The government said the unit will work to recover all properties obtained through various crimes. The crimes in question have been dealt with in the past by imposing fines, imprisonment and other penalties.

During the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere’s presidency, with the late Edward Moringe Sokoine as prime minister, the government of the day embarked on a crusade against “Hujumu Uchumi” (economic sabotage) during many businesses were caught in the mix as the state went about repossessing property suspected to have been illegally acquired. The relevant provisions in the Crimes Proceeds Act 1991 state that: “All the property of that person at any time (i) between the day the offence or the earliest offence, was committed and the day on which the application is made; or (ii) within a period of five years immediately before the day on which the application is made; shall, whichever is the shorter be deemed, unless the contrary is proved, to be property that came into the possession or under the control of the person by reason of the commission of the specified offence or offences.” (The East African)

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