FOUR prominent figures appeared before the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in Dar es Salaam yesterday charged with six counts of fraudulent trafficking, money laundering and occasioning loss of about 7bn/- to the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA).
They are renowned advocate Dr Ringo Tenga, former Managing Director and Director with Tanzania Investment Bank (TIB), Mr Peter Noni, Managing Director of Six Telecoms Company Limited, Hafidh Shamte, alias Rashid Shamte, and Noel Chacha, who is Chief Finance Officer with the company.
The four have been charged in the case jointly with six Telecoms Company Limited on account of their positions in the company. Apart from Shamte and Chacha, the charge sheet indicates that Dr Tenga and Dr Noni are also directors of the tier one provider of integrated telecommunications Services Company.
They were not allowed to enter a plea to the charges before Senior Resident Magistrate Victoria Nongwa because they fall under the Economic and Organised Crime Control Act. They were sent to remand until November 24, when the court will determine a legal point raised by the defence.
The prosecution led by Senior State Attorneys Jehovanese Zacharia and Jacqueline Nyantori, assisted by Principal State Attorney from TCRA, Johannes Kalungula, informed the court that investigations into the matter have not been completed.
Before adjournment of the trial, seasoned advocate, Dr MasumbukoLamwai, moved the court to reject the charges preferred against the accused persons on grounds that the prosecution had not particularised the role of each accused person played in the commission of the offences.
Assisted by advocates Byson Shayo and Dr Wilbard Kapinga, Dr Lamwai further submitted that the accused persons had been charged with a predicate offence without the prosecution stating the primary offence under which money laundering charges stood.
However, the trial attorneys forcefully asked the court to dismiss the arguments by the defence for lack of legal basis because the counts had been properly framed as per requirements of the law and the court had no powers to grant the orders sought.
According to the attorneys, they would wish to tender evidence to show the participation of each accused person in the commission of the offences, but such time had not yet come as the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain such a position.
Prosecuting, the trial attorneys told the court that the accused persons committed the offences on different dates between January 2014 and January 2016, within the city and region of Dar es Salaam.
It is alleged that in order to obtain a financial or personal gain, they fraudulently undercharged International Incoming Telecommunication Traffic at a rate below the minimum rate of 0.25 US dollars cents per minute.
The prosecution alleged that within the same period, on account of their respective positions in the company, fraudulently and with intent to avoid payments, the accused persons failed to pay to TCRA revenue amounting to 3,282,741.12 US dollars.
It is alleged further that being officials with the company, the accused persons and the company failed to pay regulatory fees amounting to 466,010.07 US dollars to TCRA. The prosecution also alleged that by their willful act, they caused TCRA to suffer a pecuniary loss of 3,748,751.22 US dollars.
On money laundering charges, the prosecution alleged that between January 2014 and January 2016 in the city, the accused persons acquired, used or administered money amounting to 3,282,741.12 US dollars, while knowing or ought to know that the money was proceeds of predicate offence of fraud.