If you loot with impunity and hope that the law will never catch up with you, think again. As is demonstrated by the forfeiture of properties bought with monies looted from the state. You may feel safe now but the long arm of the law will one day catch up with you. Below is a press brief from the usually toothless Anti Corruption Commission on properties forfeited to the state that were obviously ill gotten but would not be claimed by anyone.
SUPREME COURT AWARDS TEDWOTH PROPERTIES TO THE STATE
I wish to thank you all for coming to this Press Briefing. The briefing has been called to highlight one of the major cases that the Anti-Corruption Commission has been pursuing and which has now been concluded by virtue of a Judgement in its favor, by the Supreme Court of Zambia. The case involves Tedworth Properties Incorporation which matter has been in the public domain and has over the years, attracted significant public interest.
In 2002, the Commission instituted investigations into suspected corruption in the manner Tedworth Properties Incorporation Limited, a company incorporated in Panama, acquired properties in Zambia. The Acquisition of these properties was done before Tedworth Properties Incorporation was duly registered with the Patents and Companies Registration Agency (PACRA) as a foreign company in Zambia, contrary to the law.
The properties that Tedworth Properties acquires included the following:
Plot No. 4828, Alberg Court, located along Addis Ababa Drive, Longacres, Lusaka. This property comprises 21 residential flats.
Plot No. F/488a/26/C, Horizon House, located along Leopards Hill Road, in Kabulonga, Lusaka.
Plot No. F/488a/26/D, Chibote House, located along Leopards Hill Road, in Kabulonga, Lusaka.
During investigations, it was established that the properties were being managed by local property managers namely Access Financial Services Limited and S.P Mulenga and Associates. However, the said property managers were unable to disclose the real beneficiaries of the said properties and it was suspected that they were unlawfully acquired using public funds disguised as a loan. The properties were therefore suspected proceeds of crime and thus in the course of investigations, recovered and seized by the Commission. A Gazette Notice was issued on 4th February 2002 to Tedworth Properties Incorporation informing the company that the properties would be forfeited to the state within three (3) months from the date of the publication of the Notice if there was no claim to the properties.
Three months elapsed and no claim was made on the properties hence the Commission issued an Order for the Properties to be forfeited to the State pursuant to the Corrupt Practices (Disposal of Recovered Property) Regulations of 1986.
After the Order was issued, Tedworth Properties Incorporated through its lawyers commenced an action in the High Court seeking a declaration that:
It was the rightful owner of the properties in issue
That the declaration that the Notices Issued pursuant to the Corrupt Practices (Disposal of Recovered Property) Regulations were illegal
That there be an order reversing the Notices issued by the Director General of the Anti-Corruption Commission for the forfeiture of the said properties and costs.
On 30th September 2010, the High Court ruled in favour of Tedworth Properties Incorporated. An order was also issued for the Commission to hand back the Properties to Tedworth Properties Incorporation and to also render an account of the management of the same properties.
The Commission appealed the judgement of the High Court to the Supreme Court of Zambia.
On 29th December 2016, the Supreme Court delivered its judgement allowing the appeal with Costs to the State. The decision of the High Court was overturned and it was stated as follows:
That the Corrupt Practices Regulations were legal
That the Gazette Notices Issued pursuant to the Corrupt Practices Regulations were legally issued
The disputed properties were effectively and legally forfeited to the State.
You may wish to note that although the property managers refused to disclose the details of the persons who were claiming ownership of the properties in question, the lawyers for Tedworth Properties Incorporated later and in Court, disclosed that the purported beneficial owner was the late Republican President Dr. Frederick Chiluba. However, it was noted that Dr. Chiluba did not make any claim for the property when the investigations were proceeding and at the time the gazette notice was issued.
The current estimated market value of these properties is over K40 million. The said properties have been on rent to various tenants from the time the Commission seized them and the rentals have been kept by the Commission pending the outcome of the Court Proceedings.
The rentals accrued so far amount to over K14 million broken down as follows:
Over K4million in the kwacha account
Over $1.2 million in the dollar account.
The import of the Judgment of the Supreme Court is that these properties and the money have been forfeited to the State.
The matter has admittedly taken long to reach conclusion. Fighting corruption requires a lot of commitment, patience, courage and professionalism in the face of adversity. The Commission will continue and has placed a lot of emphasis on prosecuting and recovery of ill-gotten wealth, regardless of the persons or entities involved.
The Commission would like to thank all the stakeholders who were involved in assisting to bring this matter to finality and these are the Drug Enforcement Commission, the Zambia Police Service, the Security wings and you the media for keeping the matter alive in the public domain.
The Commission would also like to take this opportunity to once again call upon members of the public with information on any persons involved in corrupt activities to report them the Commission. The Commission values the support it continues to receive from the public and all stakeholders and will continue to execute its mandate for the benefit of all in Zambia.
Public Relations Manager