Zitto’s letter to Cameron over dirty Swiss billions

Shadow Minister for Finance Zitto Kabwe (Kigoma North – Chadema) has written to British Prime Minister David Cameron asking for a review of his country’s laws and those of other rich nations which make it impossible for African countries to fully investigate people who have stashed huge amounts of money in offshore accounts.

Mr Kabwe, who was among the first legislators to alert the government that there are numerous Tanzanians who have stashed dubiously acquired billions in foreign banks, has written Mr Cameron at the height of investigations by a special government appointed committee.

And in a related development, information reaching The Citizen indicates that the committee, formed after requests by Mr Kabwe to form a parliamentary one to probe the offshore accounts was turned down, has established that the amount of money held by Tanzanians in foreign accounts is actually more than what was reported earlier.

Sources privy to the information gathered by the committee have told The Citizen that there is about $5.9 billion held by Tanzanians in foreign bank accounts, most of which was illegally obtained.

Some of this money is held in British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies. Tanzania and other developing countries in Africa have been finding it hard to peep into the accounts because of financial secrecy laws.

In his letter, Mr Kabwe urges Mr Cameron to influence other rich nations to assist Tanzania and other poor countries to recover their stolen cash.

“I call on you to demonstrate your leadership at the (G8) Summit by putting in place aggressive sanctions against British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies which continue to provide cover for the siphoning of billions of dollars of our tax revenue,” says Mr Kabwe in the letter he handed to the UK High Commissioner in Dar es Salaam on Monday.

The Kigoma North legislator, who also serves as deputy leader of Official Opposition in Parliament, was referring to 39th G8 Summit scheduled for Lough Erne, Northern Ireland in June.

Mr Kabwe, who also serves as Chadema deputy secretary general, said it would help Tanzania and other poor nations which have been affected by the vice if UK and other rich nations decide to enact laws for mandatory disclosure of details of accounts held in known tax havens.

“When a government has reasonable grounds to suspect that money held in certain jurisdictions is the proceeds of corruption, tax avoidance or other crimes by its citizens, disclosure should be mandatory in order to enable it recover the diverted funds,” he insists.

Mr Kabwe, who chairs the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said money held by few individuals in foreign banks is sometimes siphoned from development aid which the country receives from UK.

He said aid by UK and other development partners is dwarfed when the amount that Tanzania loses every year to tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance is taken into account.
Source: The Citizen, reported from Dar es Salaam
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