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Wednesday
Jul092014

Tanzanians want help tracing $300 million in Swiss accounts

Tanzania has asked for help to find out if money moving into bank accounts in Switzerland was stolen from the government through fraud and corruption.

The Tanzania government is working with the International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR), a technical advisory group based in Basel, Switzerland.

Tanzania's government started an investigation into its missing money in 2012.

Last year, the amount held by Tanzanians in Swiss bank accounts rose 42 percent to $304.2 million, up from $213.4 million the year before, according to Swiss central bank data.

Frederick Werema, Tanzania’s attorney general, said:

“We cannot disclose names of anybody because by doing so we will be infringing their rights. Secondly, we may decide to name them but what if the accusations against them turn out to be untrue? And thirdly, if we disclose their names, we will be tampering with our own evidence.”

Attempts to enforce Tanzanian laws requiring politicians to disclose their assets and limit their foreign holdings have foundered.

A Tanzania official said the country is losing about $1.25 billion a year in budget revenues, equivalent to five percent of its gross domestic product, because of corporate tax evasion and corruption.

ICAR -- an arm of the Basel Institute on Governance -- helps officials from developing countries trace, confiscate and repatriate the proceeds of corruption, money laundering and related crimes.

It hasn't confirmed whether it is working for the Tanzanian government.

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Julie DiMauro is the executive editor of FCPA Blog and can be reached here.