US embassy cables: BAE’s ‘dirty deal’ to sell radar to Tanzania revealed
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 19 December 2010 21.30 GMT
Tuesday, 24 July 2007, 14:06
C O N F I D E N T I A L DAR ES SALAAM 001037
AF/E FOR B YODER AND D MALAC
MCC FOR G BREVNOV AND M KAVANAGH
EO 12958 DECL: 07/23/2012
TAGS PREL, PGOV, ECON, EAID, KMCA, PINR, TZ
SUBJECT: BIG FISH STILL RISKY CATCH IN TANZANIA
REF: A. A. DAR ES SALAAM 1009 B. B. DAR ES SALAAM 00085
Classified By: D. Purnell Delly, Deputy Chief of Mission, for reasons 1 .4(b and d).
1. (C) SUMMARY. Tanzania’s Prevention of Corruption Bureau (PCB) has never successfully prosecuted a high-level corruption case involving either the private or public sector. On July 14, the Director General of the PCB, Edward Hoseah, assured the DCM that the PCB was now prepared to prosecute a milestone corruption case: the U.K.-Tanzanian BAE radar deal.
Beyond plans to prosecute the BAE case, Hoseah painted a mixed picture regarding the Government of Tanzania’s (GOT’s) progress toward addressing the country’s endemic corruption problem. On one hand, Hoseah highlighted recent legal reforms and the increasing willingness of both Parliament and press to level corruption charges against the government. On the other hand, he noted the unabated corruption in Zanzibar, weak capacity of his bureau, and President Kikwete’s reluctance to implicate former President Benjamin Mkapa or members of Mkapa’s inner circle in corruption scandals. Finally, Hoseah reiterated deep concern about his personal safety, explaining that he frequently received threatening letters. In the event of increasing threats to his life, Hoseah said he would not hesitate to seek refuge in another country. END SUMMARY.
PCB: Ready to Prosecute the BAE Radar Deal
2. (C) Edward Hoseah, Director General of the Prevention of Corruption Bureau (PCB) told the DCM that the PCB was almost finished with its investigation of the U.K.- Tanzanian BAE radar deal and that it intended to prosecute the case. “We are focused on the 31 percent commission paid to BAE. We understand that businessmen need commissions but the question is whether 31 percent is lawful or not,” Hoseah said. He called the deal “dirty” and said it involved officials from the Ministry of Defence and at least one or two senior level military officers.
3. (C) Hoseah said that the two primary suspects, XXXXXXXXXXXX and Shailesh Vithlani, CEO of Merlin International, were currently out of the country but that when they returned the GOT would begin to prosecute. “I have obtained President Kikwete’s support to prosecute the culprits once they return to Tanzania,” he said, stressing
that prosecution of the case would mark an important milestone in the PCB’s struggle. “The real signal of the GOT’s political commitment will be when we take this radar case to court,” Hoseah said.
4. (C) Note: Shailesh Vithlani is a British citizen who reportedly grew up in Tanzania. He heads Merlin International, a Dar es Salaam based company.
Merlin International has been implicated as the agent for Britain’s BAE Systems which sold a USD 40 million military radar system to the GOT in 2002. Beyond the BAE radar deal, Merlin has been linked in the media to a range of other high profile government deals including the sale of a Gulfstream presidential jet to former President Benjamin Mkapa
. According to a July 13 report in This Day, a local newspaper, at the time of the BAE deal, Vithlani’s local partner was Tanil Somaiya of Shivacom Tanzania Ltd.
Promising Signs on Anti-Corruption Front: Legal Reform…
5. (C) In addition to the possible prosecution of the BAE radar case, Hoseah emphasized that there were other promising signs in Tanzania’s fight against corruption. First, he noted that as of July 1 the Anti-Corruption bill had become fully operational, laying the legal groundwork to accelerate the prosecution of corruption. He said that the GOT had almost finalized its “whistle blowers” legislation and that the relationship between the PCB and the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) had improved. “I have a good working relationship with the new DPP and he appears serious about prosecuting corruption.” XXXXXXXXXXXX
Stronger Parliament, Press, and Public Support
6. (C) A second promising sign regarding anti-corruption efforts which Hoseah stressed was increased support within
the Parliament, press and the general public. “Parliament is now our ally. Members of Parliament are no longer just spectators; they are starting to ask the tough questions to unveil corruption schemes,” Hoseah said. He explained that the media was also making a crucial contribution, showing politicians that they could not hide: “The press has started to bring allegations against XXXXXXXXXXXX. This signals to all politicians that no one is immune.”
Awareness is growing among the general public too, Hoseah noted, as evidenced by the increased trust in the PCB and the decline of negative news articles about the PCB and its staff.
Initiatives Stemming from the UNCAC
7. (C) Finally, Hoseah noted Tanzania’s participation in the UN Convention Against Corruption as another reason for
optimism on the anti-corruption front. As a signatory to the UNCAC, Tanzania must not only follow international standards, but will take part in several anti-corruption initiatives in the near future. For example, Tanzania will be subject to a peer review and a gap analysis on its compliance with the convention.
Troubling Signs on Anti-Corruption: Impunity at the Top….
8. (C) Hoseah then turned to his concerns regarding Tanzania’s anti-corruption struggle. He noted that President
Kikwete does not appear comfortable letting the law handle corruption cases which might implicate top level officials.
According to Hoseah, President Kikwete is hesitant to pursue cases which may implicate XXXXXXXXXXXX.
9. (C) Referring to the widespread rumors of corruption within the Bank of Tanzania (Ref B), Hoseah remarked that
XXXXXXXXXXXX In Hoseah’s view, Kikwete’s recent appointment of three new deputy BOT governors was XXXXXXXXXXXX. The DCM remarked that XXXXXXXXXXXX responses to allegations
XXXXXXXXXXXX were opaque and even projected a sense of impunity. “Your perception is correct,” Hoseah responded, adding, “there is a sense of impunity with XXXXXXXXXXXX because he and XXXXXXXXXXXX are so closely intertwined. Kikwete would find it very difficult to fire him.”
Complacency on Zanzibar…
10. (C) The ongoing, if not accelerating, level of corruption on Zanzibar is another cause for pessimism in Tanzania’s
fight against corruption. While establishment of Tanzania’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) would indeed force changes on Zanzibar in the long term, Hoseah admitted that he did not believe Zanzibar’s current leadership was committed to fighting corruption.
With a “free port” and government officials routinely on the payroll of foreign investors, Zanzibar is rife with corruption, Hoseah emphasized. With the momentum of anti-corruption efforts on the Mainland, Zanzibar will have to follow suit, Hoseah said. He added, however, that “in the short term, Zanzibar’s President faces the end of his term and it appears that there is actually an acceleration of corruption through acquisition of land and other assets.”
Continuing Capacity Constraints…
11. (C) Hoseah raised the PCB’s lack of capacity as another key challenge to Tanzania’s anti-corruption campaign. He
stressed that support from the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Threshold Program has assisted the PCB immensely with training prosecutors and investigators. Still, institutional capacity at the PCB is weak and additional capacity building is needed. One area which Hoseah specified for additional training was intelligence or evidence gathering. “Cooperation among law enforcement agencies is still limited and we need to improve our intelligence capabilities,” Hoseah told the DCM.
Threat of Stepping on the Wrong Toes
12. (C) At the end of the meeting, Hoseah reiterated concern for his personal security (Ref A), saying he believed that his life may be in danger. He told the DCM that he had received threatening text messages and letters and was
reminded everyday that he was fighting the “rich and powerful.” While Hoseah maintained that he was not scared to
do his job, he said that he could not be seen as “uncompromising.” Toward the end of the meeting, he said
quietly to the DCM, “If you attend meetings of the ‘inner-circle,’ people want you to feel as if they have put
you there. If they see that you are uncompromising, there is a risk.” Finally, he made clear that if the threat to his
life reached a certain point, he would flee the country.
Comment: PCB’s List of Untouchables: Growing?
13. (C) In our January 2007 meeting with Hoseah (Ref A), he said his primary goal as the newly appointed Director General of the Prevention of Corruption Bureau would be to prosecute “big fish.”
He told us point blank, however, that cases against the Prime Minister or President were off the table.
Now, he has revealed that XXXXXXXXXXXX may also be untouchable, many of whom have ministerial or sub-ministerial posts in Kikwete’s government. Thus, while President Kikwete’s talk against corruption might be tough, he is clearly treading carefully and the jury remains out on his commitment to tackling high-level corruption.
14. (C) Even if the Kikwete administration does prosecute the BAE case, it is important to note that the U.K. Serious
Fraud Office conducted the lion’s share of the investigation. According to Hoseah, after the Fraud Office confronted the GOT with evidence, PCB officials were invited to spend one month in London working with the Serious Fraud Office to finalize the case. Therefore, although the GOT may ultimately point to BAE as a landmark case reflecting commitment to combating corruption, the decision to prosecute may actually reflect the notoriety of the case in the UK, its notoriety and prominent press play here, and most importantly, the fact that a fully developed case file, brimming with detailed evidence, was presented by UK investigators to the Prevention of Corruption Bureau. In short, to the cynical eye, the GOT may have little recourse other than to prosecute. END COMMENT.