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A whoping US$1 billion was laundered in properties and luxury cars which are all now a target to be seized by the state before the end of this year, it has emerged.
The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) has listed palatial homes and top-of-the-range vehicles in Zimbabwe and some across the border in South Africa.
Zacc Legal Committee chair Jessie Majome said in 2023, the anti-graft body was aiming for assets worth US$1 billion.
She said Zacc was working closely with investigating agencies in South Africa and have so far seized assets valued at US$2 million across Limpopo.
“In 2023, so far eight case files were referred to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), which is the one with the right to be heard on such cases and it in turn filed one case at the High Court, also an Unexplained Wealth Order was granted for property worth US$152 300. 00,” said Majome.
As the state fights a deeply embedded corrupt system, Zacc recently forfeited a house in Mabvazuva in Ruwa worth US$300 000.
Recently, Majome said, the commission succeeded in seizing or restraining 11 immovable properties and 69 movable properties with an estimated value of US$35 million.
“The commission innovated by setting up an Asset Forfeiture and Recovery Unit which is dedicated to pursuing proceeds of corruption crime,” she said.
“The commission has ensured that Asset Recovery investigators have gone through intensive training in financial investigations and cyber-crime in order to better equip them in investigating associated offences and money laundering.
“The commission has also ensured that high profile cases and cases of national interest are prioritised.”
Corruption bleeds economies as it is estimated that between US$1 trillion and US$1.6 trillion is lost through the cross-border flow of proceeds from graft.
Official data suggest that the amount of money stolen from developing and transition countries is between US$20 billion and US$40 billion per year, translating to about 20-40% of flows of official development assistance.
The Zacc Asset Recovery Unit conducts asset tracing investigations, apply for warrants of seizure and freezing orders and then drafts asset forfeiture applications for referral to the National Prosecuting Authority.
Zacc says Zimbabwe is not alone in the quest to trace and recover stolen assets as the anti-graft fight is supported by international institutions such as the United Nations and the World Bank.
The increased global attention on asset tracing and recovery has been motivated by the devastating effects that these illicit dealings have had on the economies of both developed and developing countries.
Zacc said developing countries were facing obstacles due to a lack of non-conviction-based asset forfeiture laws, and limited legal, investigative and judicial capacity.
Inadequate financial resources are also one of the major hurdles hindering a successful fight against corruption.
Some of the challenges in the battles against corruption include jurisdictions where stolen assets are hidden— often developed countries—may not be able to respond to requests for legal assistance because necessary laws, including non-conviction-based asset forfeiture legislation, are not in place.
In situations in which death, fugitive status, or immunity of officials impedes a criminal investigation or prosecution, the process of asset recovery can be even more difficult, according to Zacc.
“This explains why Zacc is forging ahead with the identification of reputable international partners that will assist the country trace and recovering these assets. We also continue to push hard for the enabling legal framework to facilitate tracing and forfeiture.”
Zacc was formed in September 2005 as a non-independent Anti-Corruption Commission established by the Anti-Corruption Commission Act (Chapter 9:22).
The commission’s mandate is to combat corruption, theft, misappropriation, abuse of power and improper conduct in the public and private sectors.
However, Zacc has been strongly criticised as a toothless bulldog due to low numbers of convictions. *ZimSeen*