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White collar crime difficult to prosecute in Zambia – Mangani

FORMER home affairs minister Lameck Mangani says the seizure of the money that was found with Faith Musonda is welcome if there was full consent from the accused.

In an interview, Mangani said if Musonda was coerced then it cannot be good for the future.

“The move taken by the joint investigative team to enter into an agreement with Faith Musonda and decided that the state should seize the property is welcome,” he said. “Of course, there are so many arguments relating to this matter. Others are saying no ‘it is not fair that the state entered into that type of a deal because the precedence being set is that thieves will not be punished instead government will just recover property.’ Others are saying there are so many people who have stolen and are in jail so what precedent are we setting? Are we saying that those who stole and are in jail should also come out and surrender property if they ever stole?”

Mangani said such arguments were just academic because white collar crime was difficult to be properly prosecuted in Zambia.

“It is either we don’t have competent prosecutors or we don’t have competent investigators. History has it that we had the case of former president [Frederick] Chiluba. A lot of money was spent in investigating that case including other people who were charged together with president Chiluba,” he recalled. “What came out is that the State ended up spending money on a case where they failed to secure a conviction. If there is an arrangement of this nature like the one [of Faith], we have seen where the government can at least get something within a shortest possible time, in my view it’s a move that should be supported.”

Mangani said people would have loved to find out the person who gave Musonda the money, the intention and how she withdrew the money.

He however, said doing so was going to take a lot of time.

“History has it that if somebody is involved in such matters, they also use a lot of money to hire sophisticated lawyers and there will be so many deals in between. In order for the state not to lose out completely, I feel the move by the government to get something out of it should be appreciated and for me those condemning the government are not fair,” Mangani said. “In my view if we can have a lot of these other cases where government can recover something at a minimal cost to the state, we should not condemn it than allowing government to spend money flying all over the world and come back with nothing. We have had such kind of cases and government came up with nothing.”

He said when such cases take too long, the monies involved start disappearing.

“If such cases take long, we may end up hearing that the money has grown some legs and so on like the properties that were seized from Dr Chiluba. I don’t think anybody can account for that property, no. I think the route taken by the joint investigative wings is good,” argued Mangani.

Government has since recovered K65 million and US $57,900 including the house in Lusaka’s New Kasama where the cash was discovered. Musonda was set free upon forfeiture her ‘fortune’.

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