Dar es Salaam — Eight Bank of Tanzania (BoT) employees and five businessmen were yesterday charged with willfully mutilating 460,000 bank notes of ten thousand shillings denomination, submitted the pieces to the central bank for replacement – and reaped Sh1.5 billion in the process. They face six counts of economic sabotage, including the unbailable offence of money laundering and causing a Sh460,000 loss to the government.
The BoT officials are Mariagoreth Cosmas Kunzugala (alias ‘Bonge’), Henry Evereth Mbowe (alias ‘Mzee wa Vichwa’), Asha Juma Sekiboko, Cecilia Adrian Mpande, Agripina Sales Komba, Zubeda Rajabu Mjewa, Khadija Mohamed Kassunsumo and Mwanaheri Makame Omary.
Charged along with the central bank officials are businessmen Alistidees Rumanyika Genand (alias ‘Stide’), Shukuru Azizi Mchegage, Musa Akili Chengula (alias ‘Mkinga’), Zaituni Sadiki Chihipo (alias ‘Zai’) and Respicius Daudi Ishengoma.
Defacing Tanzanian bank notes is crime under Section 332 (A) of the Penal Code. The businessmen allegedly colluded with the bank officials to engage in the racket to mutilate bank notes with the intention of benefiting from it.
Under the law, any person who willfully defaces, tears, cuts or otherwise mutilates a bank currency note which is legal tender commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of Sh5,000 for each note so destroyed, or one year imprisonment in default.
State Attorney Tilumanywa Majigo told the Kisutu Resident Magistrates Court that the accused conspired and committed the offence on diverse dates between January 1, 2017 and September 30, 2019 in difference places within Dar es Salaam city.
They are also accused of leading an organised crime and laundering money with the intention of defrauding BoT.
The court heard that the accused conspired to commit the criminal acts and reaped Sh1.5 billion profit upon submitting the defaced notes to BoT for replacement.
In another count, the accused are charged with money laundering. They allegedly laundered the Sh1.5 billion they obtained fraudulently, thus causing BoT a Sh4.6 billion loss.
The accused were not required to enter any plea because the court does not have jurisdiction to hear economic sabotage cases. The Magistrates Court only conducts preliminary hearing of such cases before transferring to the High Court for trial.
Mr Paul Kadushi who led the team of state prosecutors informed the court that investigations into the case were ongoing, and asked the court to set a date for mention of the case.
The accused will spend the festive season this year behind bars after the Resident Magistrate in-charge, Godfrey Isaya, adjourned the case to December 28 – and ordered that the accused be remanded in custody until that date.
Visibly ashamed, the accused covered their faces every which way possible, giving photographers a difficult time to capturing their faces on film.
However, shortly after the magistrate entered the courtroom, a police officer ordered the accused to uncover their faces to allow the case to continue.