By Daniel Nemukuyu
THE net is closing in on individuals with questionable assets worth at least US$100 000 after the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) yesterday appealed for information to enable it to investigate, arrest fraudsters and forfeit all ill-gotten wealth.
ZACC made the call in line with its thrust of forfeiting wealth acquired through corruption.
This comes at a time the commission has seized eight immovable properties and 24 vehicles valued at US$3,5 million locally using the civil route in terms of the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act.
Efforts are being made to forfeit several properties worth US$13 million acquired through proceeds of corruption by Zimbabweans in South Africa, United Kingdom, Aisle of Mann, United Arab Emirates and China.
In an interview, ZACC Commissioner for Legal Affairs Ms Jessie Majome asked people to join the anti-graft fight and provide any information on corrupt and suspected looters living large.
“We encourage the public to whistle-blow to us any suspected corruptly obtained wealth whose value is at least US$100 000 so that we can target it for seizure using the law so that crime does not pay.
“We call upon the people of Zimbabwe to play their part in the fight against corruption.
“Those with information of suspected looters possessing questionable wealth are free to tip us off.
“Together, we will win the fight. We appeal to the people to make use of our WhatsApp whistle-blowing platform. Their identities will be protected,” said Comm Majome.
Comm Majome said ZACC required more space to store seized movable assets.
“Management of seized or recovered assets is another challenge as we have no secure storage facilities available to store these assets as yet,” she said.
ZACC is seeking to recover ill-gotten assets in other countries and to apprehend fugitives but ZACC feels the process of “Mutual Legal Assistance” is taking long.
“Applications for Mutual Legal Assistance take long to be finalised which then leads to the respondents or accused persons tampering with evidence or disposing of assets that are yet to be recovered in the foreign jurisdictions,” said Comm Majome.
The national lockdown restrictions, which have seen some ZACC officials and other stakeholders working from home, has also contributed to the delay in investigation and prosecution of corruption cases.
“Currently, the unit is handling eight cases where immovable properties were seized locally but the pace at which the cases are progressing is slow as the country is currently under Level 4 lockdown.
“Most stakeholders are working from home and cannot assist us from time to time,” she said.
ZACC’s asset forfeiture unit, according to Comm Majome, is understaffed and there is need to recruit more officers to enable a more efficient asset seizure and forfeiture system.
“The unit is faced with a serious human resources challenge. It currently comprises two Legal Officers and the Head of the unit, hence there is need for recruitment of more officers.
“Cases therefore, take longer to finalise as the investigations will take longer to finish as the officers are seized with a high case load, especially in comparison to criminal case investigators,” said Comm Majome.
ZACC, Comm Majome said, is not an enforcement agent according to the amended Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act.
“So we cannot take matters directly to the court. We have to rely on other enforcement agents to take our matters to court,” she said.