US$7bn loot stashed in foreign lands: ZACC
THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) says it has identified over US$7 billion in cash and properties stashed outside the country by former and current senior Government officials and captains of industry.
This comes as ZACC intensifies efforts to recover ill-gotten wealth hidden in foreign lands.
According to ZACC, some of the properties and cash were in Switzerland, London, the United States of America, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Mauritius and Spain, among other countries.
In an interview on the sidelines of a three-day workshop on asset recovery being held in Harare yesterday, ZACC chairperson Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo said more accurate investigations were now underway.
“Informally, we have now identified over US$7 billion worth of property and cash all over the world which were siphoned by our former leaders, current leaders, private sector and individuals. So this information we only got informally, so now we have to formalise the process so that we start the processes of repatriating the monies back home.
“So the purpose of this training is to equip our officers with the techniques of repatriation of stolen funds. This workshop is sponsored by the World Bank and UNODC and its from Star, which is Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative. So they are going to teach us on the various jurisdictions, how we can interact with those various jurisdictions, who we can engage and who we can actually work with in order to ensure that all those monies are repatriated back to Zimbabwe for the benefit of Zimbabweans,” she said.
The workshop is being sponsored by the World Bank and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
She assured the nation that ZACC would follow through every normal procedure to ensure that stolen money is recovered.
“When I took Oath of office, I told Zimbabweans that I am really geared to recover most of the stolen money as much as I can go, as far as I can go, I am willing to go in order to ensure that we get back whatever was stolen from the country.”
Mr Vision Moyo of Mapaya and Partners said although there were chances of repatriating the money, ZACC was likely to face a few challenges, including international cooperation in investigations and extradition matters, capacity building and bilateral relations with the countries concerned.
“There are however, some countries that have managed to do this and these include Nigeria, Peru and the Philippines, among others. Philippines did the same process successfully and a substantial amount of money was repatriated back to them,” he said.
The workshop scheduled to end tomorrow is being attended by officers from ZACC, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra), Financial Intelligence Unit, Immigration Department and the Special Anti-Corruption Unit.
Turning to the law, Justice Matanda-Moyo said there was need for the legislators to be proactive.
“For example in Britain they have enacted the Unexplained Wealth Orders Act and our counterpart organisation in London can actually call upon persons, the British and even those foreigners to explain on the properties that they have in the UK. So once that power is taken away from ourselves, it means we can no longer interact with the other agencies in order to make use of that particular Act,” Justice Matanda-Moyo said.