British firm urged to refund Tanzania radar funds

Thursday, Jul 21,2011, 10:18:33 PM

British MPs have demanded that BAE Systems pay the Tanzanian government 29.5m pounds (73.8bn Tanzania shillings, 4.2bn Kenya shillings) in full and immediately - or face legal action.

BAE, a British defence company, agreed 16 months ago to pay the sum as part of a settlement with the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

Reacting to the new developments, the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Job Ndugai, said on Wednesday Tanzania has welcomed the decision reached by British MPs.

The Kongwa legislator (CCM) said: "We have been overjoyed to receive such news."

He said the governments of Tanzania and Britain have agreed that the money will be deposited in a Treasury account to be under the charge of the parliament.

Last month a parliamentary team headed by Mr Ndugai travelled to Britain to present the government's stand, which was that the money should be paid directly to it instead of through charity organisations as preferred by BAE Systems.

In its report, the team advised the government to pursue legal measures against all parties or individuals implicated in BAE System's fraudulent sale of radar to Tanzania.

Former Attorney-General Andrew Chenge, who resigned from the cabinet in 2008 over the scandal, is among Tanzanians named in the scandal.

However, the minister of state in the president office responsible for good governance, Mr Mathias Chikawe, ruled out the possibility of prosecuting Mr Chenge on the grounds that he was cleared by Britain's SFO, which had investigated the matter.

The minister said the investigations only implicated Mr Sailesh Vithlan, who was the broker in the deal.

Source: Daily Nation website, Nairobi, in English 21 Jul 11

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