Zacc, Interpol join to sniff out criminals

BRIAN CHITEMBA

THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) has joined forces with the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) and South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) —The Hawks — to seize and forfeit 10 luxury properties bought through proceeds of crime.

This is part of efforts by Zimbabwe to repatriate funds that were externalised by highly organised criminal syndicates that have been bleeding the economy.

South Africa is home to millions of Zimbabweans who work in the neighbouring country, but the rich and famous who built empires through illicit financial flows also splurged millions of rands buying properties in areas such as Sandton and Dainfern — equivalent of Borrowdale Brooke Estate in Harare.

To track the properties for forfeiture, Zacc has roped in Interpol and The Hawks to close in on suspected criminals.

Zacc head of legal affairs Jessie Majome said plans were underway to track assets that comprise of ill-gotten wealth.

In Europe, lavish homes in Switzerland and Sweden bought by corrupt Zimbabweans will also be forfeited to the State.

As reported in January by the Zimbabwe Independent, Zacc has seized several plush homes and top-of-the-range cars like Range Rovers, Mercedes Benz and BMW, valued at over ZW$2 billion (US$2,38 million) from former public and private sector top officials including ex-cabinet ministers like Prisca Mupfumira and Walter Mzembi.

Majome said: “Zacc signed Memoranda of understanding on corruption busting, including asset recovery in Southern Africa with Botswana and Zambia; in Europe with Sweden and Switzerland”.

Locally, she said the anti-graft board has filed two fresh cases to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to seize and forfeit houses in Harare. The NPA will then make applications at the High Court for assert seizures.

The two new cases make the pending High Court seizure applications to 11 “with one — the Russell Mwenye case, having concluded successfully at that”.

Apart from the NPA, Zacc also works with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s investigating arm — the Financial Intelligence Unit to fight crime using the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act.

“Our other cases are still pending especially given the recent lockdown. Our progress was hampered because our stakeholders that we rely on for investigations and profiling were also under lockdown such as the deeds, companies, vehicle and births registries and the Financial Intelligence Unit,” Majome said.

“The Chief Justice’s practice direction also placed our cases outside the ones that the courts were handling, that is, new criminal and urgent cases.”

Zacc has been busy seizing properties in high-end suburbs such as Borrowdale, Gletwin, Glen Lorne and Greystone Park as owners failed to account for the source of wealth and could have violated the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act.