The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) claims it has launched a new operation code-named “Wakazvitenga Sei” that is likely to see individuals who fail to account for how they amassed their wealth forfeiting it to the State.
ZACC chair Justice Loice Matanda-Moyo said the anti-graft body was empowered by the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Amendment Act to seize assets bought through proceeds of crime.
Even if the suspected corrupt person is acquitted by the courts, the unexplained wealth orders give the commission and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) power to forfeit the properties. The law demands that anyone suspected of corruption explain his or her source of wealth, failure of which they will lose the properties.
It is believed that there are already persons of interest, including high-profile individuals, who are being investigated by ZACC. Justice Matanda-Moyo said that those that would be under investigation would be expected to produce verifiable and auditable data to support their wealth.
“This is an intensive lifestyle audit on some of the rich people. They have to produce their invoices on what goods or services they rendered and this has to match the value of the acquired properties. We will also be checking if these people or their businesses were paying taxes. This means that the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) is also on board as we seek to ensure compliance to all laws.”
However, before the properties or wealth is seized, an application would be made through the NPA.
Those who are under investigation will then be afforded an opportunity at the High Court to account for their wealth. Failure to do so will automatically result in seizure and forfeiture.
Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara)’s former chief executive officer Mr Frank Chitukutuku’s properties have been frozen while investigations into his case continue.
A former Zimra revenue official Mr Kennedy Nyatoti recently lost a US$150 000 mansion and a vehicle after the taxman conducted a lifestyle audit which exposed that his earnings did not match his possessions.
ZACC spokesperson Commissioner John Makamure said the country now has robust legal instruments to fight corruption such as the Anti-Corruption Commission Act, Prevention of Corruption Act, Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Amendment Act and Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
Writing in his bi-weekly column, Corruption Watch, which is published by The Sunday Mail, Makamure said the unexplained wealth orders were recently enacted into law and gave impetus to assets forfeiture of properties reasonably suspected to have been acquired through corruption.
“We are confident that the improved legal framework on asset recovery should enable the commission to surpass its target of recovering assets worth $300 million by the end of this year.” Sunday Mail