THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) has engaged some European ambassadors seeking co-operation in efforts to identify and repatriate offshore investments from proceeds of corruption by locals, it has emerged.
ANDREW KUNAMBURA/ TINASHE KAIRIZA
Zacc chairperson Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo met with ambassadors from some EU member states on Thursday last week and struck an agreement to assist in locating properties owned by individuals involved in corrupt activities.
Officials who attended the meeting said the ambassadors agreed to engage their respective governments in the process.
Zacc wants all those convicted of corruption by the courts to have their offshore investments repatriated by the state. Zacc spokesperson John Makamure confirmed the meeting, but declined to give details.
“It is true, the chairperson met with those ambassadors, but I cannot give you the details yet since I have not received a briefing,” he said.
Diplomats who attended the meeting told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that Matanda-Moyo sought assistance from the ambassadors after the explosion of the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) corruption scandal in which those accused of pillaging the pension fund are suspected to have used the money to acquire real estate in Europe, particularly Britain.
“A senior UK diplomat attended a diplomatic briefing with Zacc chairperson Loice Matanda-Moyo. Any request for assistance in this regard would go through the appropriate legal channels in the UK,” a British embassy spokesperson said.
“There was a meeting where we were exploring how we can co-operate in the country’s anti-corruption drive. I can say the mood was very cooperative and we will see how their operations proceed but, basically, everyone agreed to help where they can,” one of the diplomats said.
Sources said although Zacc had initially targeted property in Britain said to be owned by former cabinet minister Prisca Mupfumira, who is accused of fleecing Nssa of more than US$95 million during the time she was Labour and Social Welfare minister, the issue had opened a can of worms as some people living in the United Kingdom have come forward and offered to appear as witnesses in many other cases.
As such, sources said, Zacc will now also investigate corruption cases dating as far back as 2003.
“The chairperson met with the EU ambassadors on Thursday last week where she sought their assistance in the forfeiture and repatriation of those properties upon the conviction of the accused persons. In fact, the issue is now not only limited to Nssa,” a source said.
“There are many other cases being investigated, (with some of them) dating as far back as 2003. The investigation will also involve those who were named in WikiLeaks files, so it has become wider and there are many people offering to stand as witnesses.”
Matanda-Moyo requested for more time with the top British diplomat after other diplomats had left.
The Independent also understands that Zacc has engaged a London-based Zimbabwean national to trace some of the properties allegedly owned by Mupfumira and others.
The investigator, who is currently checking on a company in which Mupfumira is believed to have interests, will then be able to stand as a witness.
The investigator has been viewing files lodged at the Companies House and in particular with respect to a company in which one Priscah Chidavaenzi is named as a director, sources said.
The company, Priscah C Limited, was registered on August 14 2015 in Leicester.
“What is interesting about this company is that it has a board of directors who appointed Priscah Chidavaenzi as a director, yet there is a small amount of funding. What are they hiding? When the agent in London entered Mupfumira on the website, it came up with Priscah Chidavaenzi,” the source revealed.
One of the cases on Zacc’s radar is a long-standing Grain Marketing Board (GMB) scandal involving two businessmen accused of corruptly exporting maize which cost the country US$26 million.