Bribe to TRA boss: Chinese couple fined 2m/-

THE Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in Dar es Salaam yesterday sentenced a Chinese couple to pay 2m/-as fine for giving 5,000 US dollars bribe to Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) Commissioner General, Dr Edwin Mhede to avoid paying 1.3b/-tax .

Principal Resident Magistrate Huruma Shaidi imposed such a sentence after convicting Zheng Rongnan (50), who is the Managing Director of Ronglan Int’l Industry and Trade Co. Limited and his wife, O u Y a (47), both residing at Kinyombo C in Mafinga District on their own plea of guilty.

The magistrate also ordered the confiscation into government property the 5,000 U S dollars, which is equivalent to 11,545,000/-, and ordered the couple to be taken to the TRA to settle the tax liability upon paying the fine imposed against them.

Delivering the judgment, the magistrate noted that the two Chinese had shown interest to invest in the country, but he was quick to remind them that there were conditions under which such investors were required to comply, including abiding the laws of the land, notably paying relevant tax .

“You have shown bad intention of not paying tax and bribe the authority.

You came with clean hands, but now your hands are becoming dirty. This was not the intention of welcoming you to Tanzania.

The court cannot tolerate this. We have to protect interests of the country,” he told the couple. Before being sentences, the prosecution, led by an officer with the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), Ipyana Mwakatobe, asked the court to punish the duo according to the law, though they had no previous criminal records involving the two Chinese.

Advocates Steven Bwana and Denis Mdoe, for the couple, asked the court to provide lenient sentence to their clients because they are first offenders and that are investors, having a number or people behind, who depend on them. They submitted also that the duo is having a family dependant in China.

Reading memorandum of facts, the prosecution told the court that Zheng Rongnan is the Managing Director with Ronglan Int’l Industry and Trade Co. Limited, which deals with manufacturing of marine plywood and also is the supervisor of all activities conducted by his company.

The said company owned by the accused was inspected by TRA officials and it was discovered that the company had a due tax of 1,375,735,483/-, the amount which was supposed to be paid or file an objection in case not satisfied with the estimates to the TRA by February 21, 2020.

It is stated that on February 24, 2020 the two convicts went to the TRA Headquarters to meet the Commissioner General with the Authority, claiming that their company had been overestimated tax, which was supposed to be paid to TRA.

On the same day around 16.00 hours, both accused persons met with the TRA Commissioner General, Dr Edwin Mhede at his office e in the presence of his assistant, whereby they explained to him their tax disputes and also submitted some documents which they claimed to be overestimated.

The convicted couple asked the Commissioner General to resolve the tax dispute. After submitting their request to him, the accused persons took a bundle of money whish was in U S dollars currency and gave to Dr Mhede, as an inducement to assist them on the tax liability due to their company payable to TRA.

It is stated that the Commissioner General of TRA directed his assistant to count the said bundle of money given to him by the convicts and it was discovered to be 5,000 US dollars, which was in 50 notes of 100 U S dollars each.

The Commissioner General of TRA reported the matter to the PCCB and both Chinese were arrested by officials with the corruption watchdog in the office of Dr Mhede and the amount meant for the bribe and the documents submitted by the duo were seized.

O n February 25, 2020, the two Chinese nationals were taken to court to face one count of corrupt transaction.

Prosecuting, Mr Mwakatobe told the court that the duo committed the offence on February 24, 2020 at TRA Headquarters in Ilala District within the Commercial City of Dar es Salaam.

It is alleged that the two Chinese corruptly gave an advantage of the said 5,000 U S dollars, which is equivalent to 11,545,000/- to the TRA’s Commissioner General as an inducement that he could assist on tax liability due by their company of 1,375,735,483/-, which was supposed to be paid to the Authority.

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