Overs Masozi Mufwakawiri Banda, the lawyer for Avic International who is topping the list of Zambian lawyers suspected of money laundering as ‘shortlisted’ by the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) says most of the money he receives belongs to Edgar Lungu, the Zambian dictator.
Overs Banda has told his confidants that he is a mere conduit for money from Avic International to Lungu as inducement for winning road and other government contracts.
Meanwhile, several other Law firms have been linked to the US 1billion illicit money as compiled by the Zambia’s Financial Intelligence Centre.
The Financial Intelligence Centre has failed to publish the list of people and companies on the dirty list.
Among the law firms whose accounts hold huge suspicious funds are Central Chambers owned by Lawyer Sakwiba Sikota, Makebi Zulu Advocates a Law firm owned by Eastern Province Minister Makebi Zulu and Shamwana & Company, a law firm owned by former Attorney General in the MMD government Abyud Shonga together with partner Stephen Lungu.
Silwamba, Jalasi and Linyama Associates a law firm owned by former Minister of Presidential Affairs in the MMD government Eric Silwamba, former Legal Advisor to Rupiah Banda Joseph Jalasi and Lubinda Linyama,” the source said.
‘Actually the FIU had a meeting with senior lawyers last week where they disclosed most of this illicit money is in bank accounts owned by Lawyers,” the source said. Meanwhile, information emerging is that these accounts were extremely active during the trial of Rupiah Banda over the Nigerian oil deal and during campaigns in last years’ fraudulent elections and during the Presidential petition.
Two weeks ago, the FIC disclosed that in the last nine months, it recorded about 35, 783 suspicious cash transactions involving over US$ 1 billion, linked to corporate and individual bank accounts
The FIC said 50 per cent of the companies investigated which got government contracts are not registered for tax while some belong to politically exposed individuals who use surrogates to conduct business on their behalf.
A politically exposed person is an individual who is or has been entrusted with a prominent public function.
Minister Chitotela is followed by Mines Minister Christopher Yaluma whose account was very active when he was Energy Minister.
Jean Kapata is third in the line of plunderers while Dora Siliya is forth. Dora Siliya’s accounts mainly receive bank transfers from Dubai.
According to the source, minister Chitotela who has several accounts with different commercial banks has his being deposited as cash deposits. Yaluma received a lot of Kick backs from contractors at Zesco according to the source. Yaluma also received money from Dana Services who are alleged to have supplied 140 substandard Toyota Land cruisers which are not suitable for Zambian climate and most of them have already broken down.
Jean Kapata’s accounts also indicated that she had been making cash deposits and has an account with the Bank of China.
“This is likely to have been created for the purposes of receiving money from Chinese nationalities dealing in Mukula tree,” the source said.
Zambian Watchdog will continue with this list as and when information flows but will tomorrow publish the list of law firms linked to this dirty money. As already hinted, the list of lawyers involved in money laundering is led by Overs Bnada, the lawyer for Avic International. Overs Banda is the lawyer for Avic.
FIC board acting director John Kasanga said that during the period under review, close to US$1 billion was suspiciously deposited in company accounts, while US$72 million was deposited in personal bank accounts.
“For example, with companies and established businesses, we noted withdraws which were large amounts of cash. There were about 8,277 such transactions, involving K1.8 billion and on the dollar side, US$8.8 million. Coming to cash deposits which also didn’t add up, especially those entities that you know that they would not ordinarily be trading in cash. We had 17,000 such transactions, involving K3.6 billion and, wait for it, US$ 883million, you know what that amount is; just below a billion dollars,” Kasanga said, adding that there were several other millions of dollars detected in unclassified cash transactions involving companies and individuals.
“With regards to individuals, the suspicious transactions that were of concern to us, we picked up 1,884 transactions and those involved, K483.8 million and then US$6.4 million. So we have a lot of individuals playing around with a lot of cash. And when it came to deposits, we picked up about 3,369 transactions which involved K548 million and on the dollar front, wait for it, US$71,9 million dollars that people are playing around with. These suspicious transactions were processed by our financial institutions and what is significant about this is that they are based on people transacting in cash, which makes it difficult to trace the source of the money. And for those who are paying, you don’t know who is being paid from these withdrawals.”
He said company owners were avoiding tax by transacting with personal bank accounts.
“Then we also picked up that there are a lot of individual accounts that are linked to companies, where individuals are receiving more money than the companies that they are working for, which is going into individual accounts. People use this to evade tax in a number of cases. And then we also saw that a lot of the major sources of these cash deposits were from the trading commodities. The main commodities were fertilizer, maize and soya beans. Such illicit funds were being used to buy maize and export; then the proceeds would come into the normal bank accounts. So it’s a way of laundering money where all you see is the maize being sold, but how that maize was procured, there is no record of it,” Kasanga explained.