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Mozambique: Authorities seize huge haul of elephant tusks bound for Dubai

by Vusumuzi Bhengu -

Mozambique: Authorities seize huge haul of elephant tusks bound for Dubai

Ivory seized in Mozambique

By Online Editor | 22 March 2024 Club of Mozambique

The Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC) and Mozambique Tax Authority (AT) yesterday intercepted a 20-foot container containing 651 pieces of elephant tusk ivory at the port of Maputo. The consignment was bound for Dubai.

According to Moçambique Bio, the prohibited items were hidden in the centre of the container, surrounded by bags of corn.

According to the same publication, efforts are now underway to identify the exporter and customs broker of the container.

Meanwhile, lawyer David Ucama said that SERNIC would notify the National Administration of Conservation Areas (ANAC) so it could carry out an examination of the seized products.

“SERNIC will inform ANAC to carry out the investigation and be the faithful custodian, as it usually has been,” the biodiversity conservation lawyer said.

An anonymous Mozambican wildlife crime expert told Mozambique Bio: “Based on the photos I had access to, and given the quality of the ivory, it must be not only from Mozambique, but also from organised crime in neighbouring countries.”

SERNIC spokesperson Leonardo Simbine said that the Tax Authority would presently give a press conference on the matter.

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Money laundering: Uganda struck off grey list after reforms

by Vusumuzi Bhengu -

Money Laundering: Uganda struck off grey list after reforms

Bank of Uganda Mural

By URN | 26 February 2024 The Observer

Uganda has been struck off the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a categorization that risked the Ugandan financial industry being blacklisted.

The grey list acts as a warning to a country that other countries, authorities and the international community will take caution while dealing with it in matters regarding financial transactions. Failure to take measures to improve this image may lead to blacklisting the country, which is equivalent to an advisory that the country is unsafe to do business with, as money to or from the country could be from, or destined for money laundering and terrorism financing activities. 

The exit from the grey list is regarded as “a significant milestone in the country's dedication to enhancing financial transparency and combating money laundering and terrorist financing” according to the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) of Uganda.  

Since queries arose about Uganda's ability to prevent money laundering and financing of terrorist activities, international transactions have met increased scrutiny, leading to delays in completing vital businesses. Other complaints included either failure to receive expected money from aboard, or receiving much less than expected, while some money transfer services and investor brokers suspended their activities.   

FATF, an intergovernmental organization that sets global standards for combating illicit finance, placed Uganda on its grey list in February 2020 due to concerns regarding deficiencies in anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CFT) measures. 

Uganda then embarked on instituting and implementing a series of rigorous reforms to demonstrate its readiness to align its financial regulations with international standards. The government initiated key AML/CFT reforms intended to improve the robustness of Uganda's systems to deal with money laundering and terrorism financing. 

The decision to delist Uganda from the grey list was communicated by the FATF president, T.Raja Kumar while announcing the outcomes of the fifth plenary meeting which took place in Paris, France last week. 

The said reforms include included adopting a national AML/CFT, CPF (countering of proliferation financing) strategy; enhancing the use of mutual/legal assistance and maintaining comprehensive statistics; and enhancing the ability of the law enforcement agencies to conduct terrorism financing investigations and prosecutions. 

The country also had to develop and implement risk-based supervision of the financial and designated non-financial business and professionals sectors. This also included ensuring that law enforcement agencies and judicial authorities apply the ML offence consistent with the identified risks as well as establishing procedures to trace and seize proceeds of crime. 

Other reforms undertaken were implementing proliferation financing-related targeted financial sanctions; strengthening the capacity of relevant AML/CFT ministries, departments and agencies to implement the said reforms effectively and sustainably. 

"Uganda's exit from the FATF grey list is a testament to our unwavering commitment to fostering a transparent and secure financial environment. It reflects the concerted efforts of our government and regulatory authorities to strengthen our AML/CFT framework and safeguard our financial system from illicit activities," said Samuel Were Wandera, FIA executive director. 

Since the grey-listing, the government made what it calls a high-level political commitment to work with FATF and the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG). 

"Government of Uganda has been actively working to strengthen the effectiveness of its anti-money laundering/countering financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime to implement the action plan agreed to, with the FATF which comprised of 22 action items."

FIA executive director assured the FATF delegates, Ugandans and the international community of Uganda's commitment to consolidating the highlighted achievements attained during the period and to further strengthen the AML/CFT/CPF regime. 

“This shall be achieved through strengthening the national task force to effectively coordinate an all-government approach to the crimes, increased engagements with the private sector to aggressively embrace the various measures and strengthening the capacity of the institutions involved in the fight against ML/TF crimes.” 

Uganda's successful exit from the FATF grey list not only reinforces the country's reputation as a responsible member of the global financial community but also enhances its attractiveness to investors and facilitates greater access to international financial markets.

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Regional countries should cooperate to root out crime: PG Matanda-Moyo

by Vusumuzi Bhengu -

Regional countries should cooperate to root out crime: PG Matanda-Moyo

Prosecutor General of Zimbabwe

By Online Reporter | January 24th 2024 The Sunday Mail

Online Reporter

REGIONAL countries that make up the Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network for Southern Africa (ARINSA) should work together in the investigation, prosecution and forfeiture of assets related to crime and corruption, Prosecutor-General Justice Loyce Matanda-Moyo has said.

She made the call at a time the National Prosecuting Authority of Zimbabwe (NPAZ) is taking part in the Anti-Money Laundering Week in Cape Town, South Africa, which started on January 22 and is expected to end on Friday.

The event, which provides a platform for global experts in combating money laundering and terrorism financing to engage, is supported by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

“The Anti-Money Laundering Week also provides a platform for sharing intelligence, expertise and best practices to disrupt money laundering and terrorism financing.

“The meeting will also focus on the challenges and progress made in the region in fighting transnational organised crime, especially the identification, tracing, freezing, seizure and ultimately forfeiture of illicit assets,” reads part of the statement from NPAZ.

“Zimbabwe, through the NPAZ, will present a paper on the legislative framework available in the country for mutual legal assistance to combat crime and corruption transcending national borders, and how these legal instruments were effectively used by Zimbabwe in collaborating with South Africa in the recovery of a helicopter that was bought with stolen state funds from Zambia.

“The case involved a high-profile politically exposed individual from Zambia.

“Forfeiture proceedings in respect of the case are currently pending.”

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Double blow for drug peddler as State allowed to seize assets

by Vusumuzi Bhengu -

Double blow for drug peddler as State allowed to seize assets

Image of Justice Ester

By Nancy Gitonga | December 7th, 2023 People Daily, Kenya

A convicted drug trafficker suffered another blow yesterday after the Anti-Corruption High Court sanctioned the forfeiture of his two properties in Mirema Drive in Roysambu and Githunguri to the State.

Joseph Kinyanjui Wanjiru, who was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in jail plus a fine of Sh42 million for trafficking in 4,857 grams of heroin, lost the properties after Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) convinced the court that the property was illegally acquired through the crime of trafficking in narcotic drugs.

In her judgement, Justice Esther Maina declared that the assets belonging to Kinyanjui, who is serving his sentence at Kamiti Maximum Prison, were acquired through proceeds of crime and ordered it to be forfeited to the government.

“It is my finding that the applicant (ARA) has established, on a balance of probabilities, that the subject assets are proceeds of crime. Kinyanjui has been unable to reasonably demonstrate to this court that the funds from legitimate sources of income purchased the subject assets in his name or dissociate the asset from the criminal activity he was convicted of. I therefore find that the subject assets are liable to forfeiture to the State,” Maina ruled.
Business proceeds

The judged forfeited the properties after the peddler failed to show a legitimate source of the funds he used to purchase a residential house No 118 Mirema Drive, off Thika Road, in Roysambu, Nairobi County and a parcel of land in Githunguri.

Although Kinyanjui claimed he acquired the property through business proceeds, the court observed that he did not give any evidence of such business.

“There is no other business that the court can say he conducted other than the trade in narcotics,” said the judge.

She ruled that Kinyanjui failed to tender any evidence to prove that the properties were acquired long before the conviction.

While seeking to have the properties forfeited to the state, ARA told the court that Kinyajui was arrested on December 7, 2016 at Mathare Drive-In Estate in Ruaraka and arraigned on December 14, 2016.

He was charged with the offence of trafficking narcotic drugs and the agency commenced investigations to recover proceeds of crime derived from the trafficking and trading of narcotics.
Brownish substances

The agency, through investigating officer Fredrick Muriuki, told the court that during the arrests, a search was conducted in the house belonging to Kinyanjui and a total of 4,857.87 grams of heroin whose market value was Sh14,573,610 were recovered from the house.

Also seized at his residence were two packages containing brownish and whitish substances inside a paper bag, four packages of brownish substances in a small sack, three weighing scales, two heaters, empty wrapping paper, five masks, phones, wallet containing Sh2,150, knives among other things.

On August 16, 2019, ARA received information that Kinyajui acquired assets or properties using the proceeds from the illegitimate trade.

The properties were L.R Ruiru East Block 1 (Githunguri) 1436, Residential House No. 118, L.R No. 7965/89 and Certificate of Title I.R Number 201022 Mirema Drive (Off Thika Road) Roysambu held in his name which are suspected to be proceeds of crime.

Muriuki informed the judge that upon receiving the information, they lodged a probe which revealed the properties were proceeds of crime obtained from the trade in narcotic drugs.

Kinyanjui was on August 9, 2018 found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison for trafficking drugs. There is no record of the matter having been appealed.
Money laundering

ARA told Justice Maina that an analysis of Kinyanjui’s accounts statements at Equity Bank and Barclays Bank established that there were suspicious deposits of huge sums of cash and cheques that indicated activities of money laundering.

“The deposits made were below Sh1 million to evade the reporting threshold as per the Central Bank of Kenya prudential guidelines for account holders to declare the source of money,” ARA officer Muriuki said.

The anti-graft agency informed the court that Kinaynjui acquired, conveyed, sold and distributed the narcotics drugs and laundered the proceeds by investing them in two properties with an intent of concealing, disguising and hiding the source of funds used to acquire the assets.

But Kinyanjui opposed the forfeiture saying that prior to his conviction, he ran a brokerage business in construction material, real estate and second-hand clothing and that before that he was an employee of African Heritage.

He contended that there were no grounds to infer criminal conduct as far as his properties were concerned.

He said that should the court allow the forfeiture of his property to the State, it would give credence and undeserved legitimacy to the ARA to continue to “maliciously advance false allegations against Kenyans by frustrating their hard-earned money and forfeiting properties without reasonable grounds.”

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by Vusumuzi Bhengu -


A  picture of a seized plane in Zambia

By Staff Writer | October 16, 2023, Zambian Observer

The Director of Public Prosecutions has applied before the Lusaka High Court, Economic and Financial Crimes registry for a private jet used in the gold scam case to be forfeited to the State.

Drug Enforcement Commission Assistant Commissioner, Martin Chitamba says that on 13th August, 2023, information was received to the effect that a T7-WSS Global Express (GLEX) Jet from Cairo, Egypt suspected to be carrying prohibited articles landed around 17:15 hours at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA).

Mr. Chitamba says when the airspace application form completed by IBIS Air for the plane to land was viewed, it was discovered that the applicants had falsely declared that the aircraft was not carrying anything.

He says it took five hours for the five Egyptian nationals to allow the investigative team on the plane to inspect the aircraft.

Mr. Chitamba has also revealed that when the investigative team was finally allowed onto the plane, they found cargo such as, 602 pieces of brass pellets (a combination of copper and zinc metals) weighing a total of 127.28 Kilograms purported to have been gold valued at about $7, 636, 800, five (5) pistols with 126 rounds of ammunition and eleven (11) pistol magazines, a drilling machine and over $5.7 million dollars.

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Judge orders ex-KeRRA manager to forfeit Sh500m property

by Vusumuzi Bhengu -

Image of a gavel

By Paul Ogemba, 18 November 2023: The Standard

A former senior manager at Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA) has lost property worth Sh500 million acquired through corruption.

Justice Esther Maina ordered Margaret Wanja Muthui and her associates to forfeit the property to the state after finding that she enriched herself through proceeds of crime and used proxies to register them.

“She cannot be allowed to benefit from property she acquired through corruption. If indeed she was capable of purchasing the property, why then did she look for mama mbogas (vegetable sellers) from Githurai to pose as the purchasers?” said Justice Maina.

Among the property Muthui was ordered to forfeit to the state are 11 apartments in Kileleshwa, a townhouse at Collingham Gardens in Nairobi, 24 apartments in Ruaka, a piece of land in Ruaka, a plot in Dagoretti and Sh94 million in her accounts.

Justice Maina ruled that the Asset Recovery Agency (ARA) had proved beyond reasonable doubt that Muthui corruptly acquired millions of shillings when she served as deputy director of supply chain management at the road’s authority.

The judge found that ARA had proved that Muthui had stashed old Sh1,000 notes in her house and when the government declared a phase-out of the currency in 2019, she had nowhere to hide them and embarked on massive buying of property to clear the money.

In order to conceal her identity, the former Kura manager recruited Esther Wagio Njunge, Grace Ndiritu, Mercy Nyambura and Cynthia Nyambura as her proxies and named them as beneficiaries and registered owners of the property.

“It was worth noting that some of the listed beneficiaries disowned being owners of the property since they were mere small scale traders who were asked to pose as buyers but knew nothing about the source of the funds,” ruled Maina.

The Judge further declared that any rental income, benefit and profit accruing from the 11 Signature Apartments in Kileleshwa owned by Muthui and the 24 Taraji Residence apartments in Ruaka are proceeds of crime that should be remitted to the state.

ARA in its suit accused the former KeRRA manager of being the architect of the corruption scandal where she bought the property and registered them in the names of her associates to conceal her identity.

According to ARA, investigations established that Muthui paid Sh264 million in cash for 11 apartments in Kileleshwa within a period of three months during the demonetisation of the old Sh1,000 notes in 2019 so as to launder the illegitimately obtained cash.

The agency said they started investigating Muthui and her associates when they received information that she had acquired massive wealth within a short period of time through a scheme of money laundering and corruption.

According to ARA, Muthui had been collecting monthly rent ranging from Sh116,000 to Sh200,000 from each of the 11 apartments in Kileleshwa which the court said must be forfeited to the state.

The agency claimed that even after giving the named persons a chance to explain the source of their wealth, they did not give a satisfactory explanation which left no doubt that the cash in the accounts and the assets are proceeds of crime.

After analysing Muthui’s accounts, the court was convinced that she received suspicious funds through a scheme of money laundering which are believed to be proceeds of crime and liable for forfeiture to the state.  

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THE European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) and Tracfin, France’s financial intelligence unit (FIU) have signed a Working Arrangement, establishing a structured framework for their cooperation.

by Vusumuzi Bhengu -

THE European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) and Tracfin, France’s financial intelligence unit (FIU) have signed a Working Arrangement, establishing a structured framework for their cooperation.

31 October 2023 | By Staff Repoter

Eppo and Tracfin signing ceremony

The arrangement aims to facilitate and foster the exchange of information on
suspicious financial transactions relating to facts and offences falling within the remit of the EPPO.

“It also underlines the efforts of both parties to make the fight against
money laundering, and the underlying offences that damage the financial interests of the European Union, as effective as possible,” Tracfin said in a statement.

The Working Arrangement was signed on 26 October in Luxembourg by Laura Codruța Kövesi, European Chief Prosecutor, and Guillaume Valette-Valla, Director of Tracfin.

Laura Codruța Kövesi, European Chief Prosecutor: “The EPPO needs information from financial intelligence units in order to combat fraud against the financial interests of the EU efficiently. Tracfin is a very important partner for the EPPO in this respect. This working arrangement opens the way for deepening our cooperation, and will facilitate the transmission of crime reports as well as the exchange of criminal analysis.”

Guillaume Valette-Valla, Director of Tracfin: “Tracfin’s first operational exchanges with the European Public Prosecutor’s Office began during 2022. This Working Arrangement will allow us to amplify them, in order to more effectively fight against the fraudsters and criminal networks that are undermining the foundations of the European project.”


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2022 Biggest Year Ever For Crypto Hacking with $3.8 Billion Stolen, Primarily from DeFi Protocols and by North Korea-linked Attackers

by Kudzai Chinoda -

2022 Biggest Year Ever For Crypto Hacking with $3.8 Billion Stolen, Primarily from DeFi Protocols and by North Korea-linked Attackers

February 1, 2023 | By Chainalysis Team

2022 was the biggest year ever for crypto hacking, with $3.8 billion stolen from cryptocurrency businesses.

Hacking activity ebbed and flowed throughout the year, with huge spikes in March and October, the latter of which became the biggest single month ever for cryptocurrency hacking, as $775.7 million was stolen in 32 separate attacks.

Below, we’ll dive into what kinds of platforms were most affected by hacks, and take a look at the role of North Korea-linked hackers, who drove much of 2022’s crypto hacking activity and shattered their own yearly record for most cryptocurrency stolen. 


DeFi protocols by far the biggest victims of cryptocurrency hacks

In last year’s Crypto Crime Report, we wrote about how decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols in 2021 became the primary target of crypto hackers. That trend intensified in 2022.

DeFi protocols as victims accounted for 82.1% of all cryptocurrency stolen by hackers — a total of $3.1 billion — up from 73.3% in 2021. And of that $3.1 billion, 64% came from cross-chain bridge protocols specifically. Cross-chain bridges are protocols that let users port their cryptocurrency from one blockchain to another, usually by locking the user’s assets into a smart contract on the original chain, and then minting equivalent assets on the second chain. Bridges are an attractive target for hackers because the smart contracts in effect become huge, centralized repositories of funds backing the assets that have been bridged to the new chain — a more desirable honeypot could scarcely be imagined. If a bridge gets big enough, any error in its underlying smart contract code or other potential weak spot is almost sure to eventually be found and exploited by bad actors. 

How do we make DeFi safer?

DeFi is one of the fastest-growing, most compelling areas of the cryptocurrency ecosystem, largely due to its transparency. All transactions happen on-chain, and the smart contract code governing DeFi protocols is publicly viewable by default, so users can know exactly what will happen to their funds when they use them. That’s especially attractive now in 2023, as many of the crypto market blowups of the past year were due to a lack of transparency into the actions and risk profiles of centralized cryptocurrency businesses. But that same transparency is also what makes DeFi so vulnerable — hackers can scan DeFi code for vulnerabilities and strike at the perfect time to maximize their theft.

DeFi code auditing conducted by third-party providers is one possible remedy to this. Blockchain cybersecurity firm Halborn is one such provider, and is notable for its clean track record — no DeFi protocol to pass a Halborn audit has subsequently been hacked. We spoke with Halborn COO David Schwed, whose background includes stints in risk and security at large banks like BNY Mellon, about how DeFi protocols can better protect themselves. He emphasized that many of the issues in DeFi come down to a lack of investment in security. “A big protocol should have 10 to 15 people on the security team, each with a specific area of expertise,” he told us. He indicated that the core issue is that DeFi developers prioritize growth over all else, and direct funds that could fund security measures to rewards in order to attract users. “The DeFi community generally isn’t demanding better security — they want to go to protocols with high yields. But those incentives lead to trouble down the road.” 

Schwed told us that DeFi developers should look to traditional financial institutions for examples of how to make their platforms more secure. “You don’t need to move as slow as a bank, but you can borrow from what banks do.” Some measures he recommends include:

  • Test protocols with simulated attacks. DeFi developers can simulate different hacking scenarios on testnets in order to test how their protocol stands up to the most common attack vectors.
  • Take advantage of crypto’s transparency. One huge advantage of a blockchain like Ethereum is that transactions are visible in the mempool before they’re confirmed on the blockchain. Schwed recommended that DeFi developers monitor the mempool closely for suspicious activity on their smart contracts to detect possible attacks as early as possible.
  • Circuit breakers. DeFi protocols should build out automated processes to pause their protocols and halt transactions if suspicious activity is detected. “It’s better to briefly inconvenience users than to have the entire protocol get drained,” said Schwed. 

Schwed also told us that regulators have a role to play here, and can help make DeFi safer by setting minimum security standards that protocol developers must follow. The data on DeFi hacks makes one thing clear: Whether achieved through regulation or voluntary adoption, DeFi protocols will greatly benefit from adopting better security in order for the ecosystem to grow, thrive, and eventually penetrate the mainstream. 

North Korea-linked hackers break theft records yet again: $1.7 billion stolen

North Korea-linked hackers such as those in cybercriminal syndicate Lazarus Group have been by far the most prolific cryptocurrency hackers over the last few years. In 2022, they shattered their own records for theft, stealing an estimated $1.7 billion worth of cryptocurrency across several hacks we’ve attributed to them. For context, North Korea’s total exports in 2020 totalled $142 million worth of goods, so it isn’t a stretch to say that cryptocurrency hacking is a sizable chunk of the nation’s economy. Most experts agree the North Korean government is using these stolen to fund its nuclear weapons programs

$1.1 billion of that total was stolen in hacks of DeFi protocols, making North Korea one of the driving forces behind the DeFi hacking trend that intensified in 2022. North Korea-linked hackers tend to send much of what they steal to other DeFi protocols, not because these protocols are effective for money laundering — they’re actually quite bad for money laundering given their increased transparency compared to centralized services — but rather because DeFi hacks often result in cybercriminals acquiring large quantities of illiquid tokens that aren’t listed at centralized exchanges. The hackers therefore must turn to other DeFi protocols, usually DEXes, to swap for more liquid assets.


Besides DeFi protocols, North Korea-linked hackers also tend to send large sums to mixers, which have typically been the cornerstone of their money laundering process. In fact, funds from hacks carried out by North Korea-linked hackers move to mixers at a much higher rate than funds stolen by other individuals or groups. But which mixers do they use? We’ll dig in below.

Meet the new mixer North Korean hackers have turned to following Tornado Cash’s OFAC designation

For much of 2021 and 2022, North Korea-linked hackers almost exclusively used Tornado Cash to launder cryptocurrency stolen in hacks. It’s not hard to see why — Tornado Cash was for a time the biggest mixer operating, and its unique technical attributes made the funds it mixed relatively difficult to trace.

However, the hackers adapted when Tornado Cash was sanctioned in August 2022. While North Korea-linked hackers have still sent some funds to Tornado Cash since then, we can see above that they diversified their mixer usage in Q4 2022, soon after the mixer’s designation. This may be due to the fact that, while still operational, Tornado Cash’s overall transaction volume has fallen since its designations, and mixers generally become less effective when fewer people are using them. Since then, the hackers have turned to another mixer, Sinbad, which we’ll look at in more detail below.


Sinbad is a relatively new custodial Bitcoin mixer that began advertising its services on the BitcoinTalk forum in October 2022. Chainalysis investigators first observed wallets belonging to North Korea-linked hackers sending funds to the service in December 2022, which we can see on the Chainalysis Reactor graph below.

As we’ve seen in many North Korea-directed hacks, the hackers bridge the stolen funds from the Ethereum blockchain — including a portion of the funds stolen in the Axie Infinity hack — to Bitcoin, then sending that Bitcoin to Sinbad. During December 2022 and January 2023, North Korea-linked hackers have sent a total of 1,429.6 Bitcoin worth approximately $24.2 million to the mixer. 

While North Korea-linked hackers are undoubtedly sophisticated and represent a significant threat to the cryptocurrency ecosystem, law enforcement and national security agencies’ ability to fight back is growing. Last year, for example, we saw the first ever seizure of funds stolen by North Korea-linked hackers, when agents recovered $30 million worth of cryptocurrency stolen in the Axie Infinity Ronin Bridge hack. We expect more such stories in the coming years, largely due to the transparency of the blockchain. When every transaction is recorded in a public ledger, it means that law enforcement always has a trail to follow, even years after the fact, which is invaluable as investigative techniques improve over time. Their growing capabilities, combined with the efforts of agencies like OFAC to cut off hackers’ preferred money laundering services from the rest of the crypto ecosystem, means that these hacks will get harder and less fruitful with each passing year.

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Wadyajena bought 25 trucks in US$5m Cottco scam, court hears

by Kudzai Chinoda -

Wadyajena bought 25 trucks in US$5m Cottco scam, court hears

Instead of importing the bales, Wadyajena and his colleagues allegedly imported 25 trucks from a USA company called Giant Equipment in 2019 and 2020.

By Staff Reporter  18 Aug 2022

HARARE – Justice Mayor Wadyajena, Zanu PF’s Gokwe Nembudziya MP and chairman of the parliamentary committee on agriculture, siphoned millions of dollars from the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe in an elaborate scam before buying 25 haulage trucks, a court heard on Wednesday.

The Lambourgini-pushing MP, who was arrested on Tuesday, was so frustrated when told his bail application would spill over to Thursday he offered to transport court officials to their homes if the hearing would continue well into the evening.

The offer was slapped down by magistrate Stanford Mambanje.

Wadyajena is charged with fraud and money laundering involving US$5 million together with four others and two companies, including his Mayor Logistics.

They are Pius Manamike, 54, who is Cottco managing director; Maxmore Njanji, 47, (head of marketing, operations, ginning and logistics), Fortunate Molai, 34, (Cottco acting procurement manager) and Chiedza Danha, 39, who is being charged in his personal capacity while also representing Pierpont Moncroix, which is jointly charged in the crime.

Mayor logistics is being represented by Wadyajena.

According to court papers, sometime in 2019, Wadyajena and his co-accused hatched a plan to defraud Cottco through fictitious purchase of goods purportedly for use by the company.

The allegedly went on to open a shelf company called Pierpont Moncroix which was later recommended by Molai to supply Cottco 3 million High Carbon Bale Ties valued at US$2,6 million to carter for the 2019 ginning season.

It is state’s case that the name of the company created by the accused was the same as that of a Mauritius company so as to mislead Cottco.

On March 14, 2019, the crew allegedly approved a fraudulent Purchase Order in favour of Pierpont Moncroix Mauritius valued at US$2 528 000 purporting that Pierpont Moncroix Mauritius was going to supply 3 200 000 bale ties to Cottco.

Instead of importing the bales, Wadyajena and his colleagues allegedly imported 25 trucks from a USA company called Giant Equipment in 2019 and 2020.

They allegedly went on and registered the trucks under Mayor Logistics.

In November 2019, Manamike and Njanji allegedly issued a second purchase order on behalf of the Cottco, which was valued at US$1 106 000 for the purchase of the bale ties from Giant Equipment company again.

The order was then approved even though Giant Equipment had failed to deliver the first order; no bales were also delivered as the money was allegedly transferred to Afrozurich International in a currency swap deal.

Later in November 2021, Molai allegedly sent an email to the Cottco’s treasurer in which she requested the company to pay a deposit of US$2 500 000 for the purchase of other bales from Energy Park Company.

On November 23 2021, US$363 900 being part of transfer to CBZ Energy Park Account of US$750 000 was later transferred to Maropafadzo Energy (Pvt) Ltd Ecobank account and US$421 000 was transferred to Energy Park Bulk Fuels (Pvt) Ltd the following day.

On March 8 2022 and March 14 this year, two further payments were allegedly processed from Cottco’s CABS Account of US$450 000 and US$1 000 000 to Maropafadzo Energy company as requested by the supplier.

The court papers state that a total of US$2 200 000 was paid against the order of US$4 578 078.

Court also heard that investigations proved that Energy Park (Pvt) Ltd is in the fuel industry and sells fuel in bulk and direct to retailers and not bale ties.

It is alleged that payments to Maropafadzo Energy being part of the order for bale ties were further transferred into various accounts of individuals and corporates both local and international for procurement of services which have nothing to do with the purpose for which the funds were transferred at Cottco.

Following the court appearance Wednesday, Wadyajena and his co-accused were sent to Remand prison awaiting bail hearing finalisation this Thursday.

The group also faces money laundering charges involving US$5 million.

They appeared before Harare magistrate seeking bail with prosecutors opposing on grounds that evidence against them was so overwhelming that they may consider both skipping bail and interfere with witnesses in their matter

The Investigating Officer in the case, Authur Murambiza said they have paper trail confirming the offences.

“During the investigations, we gathered overwhelming evidence against the accused and the likelihood of a conviction is there, which might cause them to abscond of granted bail.

“As of this moment, we have documentary exhibits which include email instructions, proof of payments and bank statements.

“We also have identified which could be proceeds of the offence,” he told court.

The IO also said they were yet to get the addresses for other suspects in the matter.

He also said Danha has a company in Mauritius.

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Former Mozambican president takes the stand

by Kudzai Chinoda -

Former Mozambican president takes the stand

For 10 years, from the beginning 2005 until the end of 2014, Armando Guebuza was the most powerful man in Mozambique. He controlled the levers of power as president of both the republic and of the governing Frelimo party.

But for two days, more than a week ago, Guebuza was treated like an ordinary citizen and subjected to gruelling questioning in a courtroom in Maputo. He was forced to explain his role in the $2.2-billion “hidden debt” scandal that plunged the country into a severe financial crisis — and took place under his watch.

Although his appearance may, for some, have dented the former president’s reputation, it was also an opportunity for him to address the Mozambican public — and to attack his successor, Filipe Nyusi.

And as Frelimo gears up for a congress in September to choose Nyusi’s successor, this battle between the party’s two biggest beasts has a significance beyond the corruption trial itself.

A fishy business

Guebuza was the last of 67 witnesses called by the attorney general’s office to testify at the televised hearings. For the past six months, the court — sitting in a tent in the courtyard of a maximum-security prison outside the capital, Maputo — has heard evidence that has implicated his inner circle in serious financial irregularities.

Although the former president has not himself been prosecuted, the accused include his private secretary and his chief political advisor, as well as his son, Ndambi. The defendants have been charged with assorted crimes including money-laundering, forgery, embezzlement, blackmail, criminal association and influence peddling.

The accusations centre around $2.2-billion that was borrowed by companies set up by the Mozambican intelligence service, backed by state guarantees. Infamously, some of this money was used to purchase tuna fishing boats that were allegedly vastly overpriced and unfit for purpose, and are currently rusting — unused — in Maputo’s harbour.

Under Mozambican law, debts of that size should never have been taken on without the approval of parliament and the administrative court. But parliament was never consulted, until after the scandal broke when it retroactively approved the loans.

In 2019, under pressure from civil society, the Constitutional Council ended up declaring the debts null and void. Mozambique has refused to honour two of the loans, but is slowly repaying one of them, which was worth $850-million, but will cost the country as much as $2.4-billion by the time it is paid off.

The man who signed the guarantees, the then finance minister Manuel Chang, has been languishing in a South African prison since December 2018, stuck in an extradition tug-of-war between Mozambique and the US.

Credit Suisse, the bank that financed part of the fraudulent deal, was fined $547-million by regulators in the US and UK. But no one has yet been brought to justice in Mozambique. And Guebuza, in his testimony, did his best to convince prosecutors – and the Mozambican public – that his hands are clean.

Passing the buck

Although Guebuza accepted responsibility for creating the companies in question, he pointed the finger of blame for the fraudulent activity at none other than Nyusi, who was his minister of defence at the time, and who chaired a group of senior officials that Guebuza set up and, he says, put in charge of the project.

“I trusted them. I delegated because I trusted the people I was working with,” Guebuza told the court.

But Nyusi has denied any involvement. Nyusi’s testimony, given to state prosecutors in 2018 and read aloud by the judge in court on Friday, said that he knew nothing about the dodgy companies at the heart of the scandal — and found out about their existence only when the scandal broke in 2016. Video footage currently doing the rounds in Mozambique casts doubt on this account, because it shows Nyusi discussing them in 2014 and 2015.

The two presidents’ contradictory accounts will make it difficult for prosecutors and judges to get to the bottom of what happened. But they may not be the final arbiters. Instead, all eyes turn now to the Frelimo party congress in September, at which Nyusi and Guebuza are vying to have the final say on who will be the candidate to succeed as president. They will each be hoping that their favoured candidate wins the nomination — and can keep them out of jail.

This article first appeared in The Continent, the award-winning pan-African weekly newspaper designed to be read and shared on WhatsApp. Download your free copy here

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