AfricaPress-Tanzania: THE prosecution has not responded to the request by defence to conclude negotiations on plea bargaining agreement into 1.6bn/- trial of senior officials with BEVICO Limited, a company engaged in the business of importing and selling alcoholic drinks from abroad.
This was disclosed at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in Dar es Salaam last week by Advocate Peter Mdemu when the case came for mention.
He told Senior Resident Magistrate in Charge Godfrey Isaya that they have not completed the negotiations, while the time given was about to come an end.
“Under the circumstance, your honour, we request for extension of time so that we can meet with the prosecution in order to conclude the negotiations,” the advocates asked.
However, the magistrate sought to know when the time granted to the parties to conclude the negotiations would expire. The advocate responded that the time given on working days would expire today (April 6, 2021).
The magistrate, therefore, adjourned the proceedings to today so that the court can establish the way forward. On March 4, 2021, the Court gave the parties 30 days to conclude the plea bargaining agreement in question.
The magistrate issued the order in terms of Rule 5 of the Criminal Procedure (Plea Bargaining) Rules, 2021 published recently by the Chief Justice, Prof Ibrahim Juma.
He also directed the prosecution to comply with Rule 6 of the Rules to disclose to accused persons all relevant information, documents or other matters obtained during investigation for them to make an informed decision regarding the agreement.
Before issuing the orders, the magistrate made an inquiry from the accused persons to satisfy the court in terms of Rule 5 (2) of the Rules, whether they decided to enter into the plea bargaining agreement voluntarily.
The accused persons are two French nationals, Thierry Lefeuvre and Melanie Phillippe, who are Chief Executive Officer and Human Resources Manager respectively with BEVICO Limited and two Tanzanians -Joseph Rwegasira and Ntemi Massanja, who are Finance Manager and lawyer with the company respectively.
They are facing a total of 46 counts of leading organised crime, failure to pay tax, tax evasion, forgery of various documents, uttering false documents, money laundering and occasioning loss to a specified authority.
It is alleged that on diverse dates between September 1, 2017 and September 30, 2020 at various places in Dar es Salaam, jointly and together, all accused persons intentionally organised a criminal racket.
The court heard that between October 1, 2017 and December 31, 2019 in the city, by their willful acts, jointly and together, all accused persons caused the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) to suffer a pecuniary loss of 1,658,370,376/29.
On money laundering, Philippe and Massanja are charged that between October 1, 2017 and June 31, 2020 facilitated Samson and Lefeuvre to obtain the money, while knowing the same was proceeds of predicate offences of tax evasion, forgery and participation in organised criminal group and racketing.
Within the same period, Samson and Lefeuvre allegedly engaged themselves in transactions that involved the 1,658,370,376/29, while they knew that the money is proceeds of predicate offences to money laundering of tax evasion, forgery and participation in organised criminal group and racketing.
The prosecution told the court that between October 1, 2017 and June 31, 2020 in the city, being Manager and Chief Executive Officer with BEVCO Limited, respectively, Samson and Lefeuvre failed to pay the said amount as Value Added Tax (VAT) payable to TRA.
It is alleged that between January 22 and July 19, 2019 within the city, being Finance Manager of BEVCO Limited, failed to pay a total of 187,263,009/48 being VAT, while between January 26, 2018 and May 21, 2020, Lefeuvre failed to pay a total of 593,279,429/61 as VAT payable to the Authority.
Between January 1 and April 1, 2020 at BEVCO Limited offices in Dar es Salaam, Samson forged several documents with different purposes, including Notice of Call of Shares, a reply letter, extraordinary members’ resolution, while Lefeuvre is alleged to have forged Companies Form 210b.
The two accused persons are also alleged to have jointly forged other documents for different purposes, including the form in question, return of allotment of shares Form 55a and application for change of BEVCO Company Limited particulars.
On January 1, 2020 at BEVCO Limited offices within the city, knowingly and fraudulently, Samson uttered to the Registrar of Companies the false documents.