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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Elusive Escrow & Credit Crunch

The Credit Crunch and the Quest for Escrow Money

Chambi Chachage

What does the global credit crunch have to do with a local Tegeta Escrow account in Tanzania? The answer ought to be simple. The scandalous story began in the banks.

At the heart of this story are Malaysian banks that gave credit to the Independent Power Tanzania Limited (IPTL) through the clout of its (then) main shareholder, Mechmar Corporation (Malaysia) Berhad. The minor shareholder, VIP Engineering and Marketing Limited, provided the local legitimacy that enabled IPTL to be registered in our country.

But the heart of this story shifted from these banks to another key one – Standard Chartered Bank-Hong Kong (SCB-HK). How did that shift occur and how does it relate to the global credit crunch? The answer is partly found in the special audit report on Escrow account that the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) conducted in 2014.

On page 44 of this audit report that has been posted online following some sort of a presidential directive that is said to be unprecedented and nonprocedural, CAG refers to a “Consortium of Malaysian Banks” and two other banks that gave credit to IPTL totalling $85, 862,022 between the year 1997 and 1999. These were: BBMB International Bank Ltd, Sime International Bank, Sime Bank Berhad, Danaharta, and RHB Bank Berhad.

However, CAG notes that SCB-HK became the liquidators of Mechmar and thus bought/took – or, in our layman parlance, rather inherited – all the credits to IPTL, i.e., all its debts. In telling the story of one of the many attempts at the liquidation of IPTL in Tanzania following the request of VIP to the High Court, CAG also notes that one Joseph Casson is the one who submitted the request for recovering a $125,970,570.67 debt from IPTL on behalf of SCB-HK. He submitted this to the IPTL liquidator on 24 April 2012.

One may wonder who is this Joseph Casson. If we go by his apparent LinkedIn profile, then he is the Standard Charter Bank’s “Managing Director” whose responsibility was/is to be the “Global Portfolio Manager for the banks distressed debt and special situations” investments, a position he started holding in 2008. And what was so distressing in 2008?

You can bet. It was the credit crunch. An article from the mouthpiece of corporate capitalism, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) made this observation in 2010: “No bank came out of the crisis unscathed but Standard Chartered performed better than many. Its shares have risen more than 20% since the Friday before Lehman Brothers’ collapse in September 2008.”

How did they do it? The clue is in this introductory part of the same WSJ article that talks about how the art that decorated the office the of SCB’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) – i.e. “a cabinet from Malaysia”, “masks from Africa”, “model buses from India” and “coins from a Chinese shipwreck” – tells us “much more about Standard Chartered” bank than “ its location in the heart of the City of London”.

And this is that “more”:  “Standard Chartered earns more than 90% of its profits in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It makes more profits in Hong Kong, India or Singapore individually than it does from the U.K., the rest of Europe and the U.S. combined.”

The article, which is based on an interview its author had with the CEO, also notes: “The crisis did not entirely pass Standard Chartered by. The bank courted controversy when it decided not to bail out its structured investment vehicle Whistlejacket. Many other banks took their distressed structured investment vehicles onto their balance sheets.”

Note the word “distressed”. The same word we saw in the apparent profile of SCB’s Joseph Casson above. I am not a banker and I don’t know how bankers define that word. But my simple dictionary has two definitions that seems to be both applicable: “suffering from anxiety, sorrow, or pain” and “(of property) for sale at unusually low prices or at a loss, esp. due to mortgage foreclosure or because it is part of an insolvent estate.”

It is because of being distressed that the banks entered into the race/battle for the money in the Tegeta Escrow account. That battle has been brutal. If it weren’t, accusations against a British Ambassador in Tanzania wouldn’t be part of the Escrow debate.

Let us refresh our memory. After the allegations that the UK and SCB were behind our leading whistleblowers of the Escrow scandal, the chair of the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Zitto Kabwe, strongly refuted those allegations on his popular Facebook page prior to the End-of-November parliamentary debate on Escrow.

Among other things, he stated, in Swahili, that “kuna propaganda ambazo haziangalii hata diplomasia” and concluded that “Kurudia kurusha tuhuma kwa Ubalozi wa Uingereza nchini ni kudhihirisha kwa mara nyingine kiburi cha kuwa na mamlaka…walichonacho wanaotuma tuhuma hizi.”

His words can thus be translated: “There is propaganda that does not even consider diplomacy…. To repeat the allegations against the British Embassy in the country is to prove again the arrogance of power that those allegers have.”

Tellingly, during the parliamentary debate in 28 November 2014 he presented this spirited defense couched in the language of patriotism: “Nataka niwakumbushe na Waziri wa Mambo ya Ndani ni shahidi yangu. Fedha hizi zilitaka kuanza kuibwa toka mwaka elfu mbili na nane [2008], elfu mbili na tisa [2009]. Mahakamani Jaji akaenda akaondoa amri ya kuiweka IPTL kwenye muflisi wakati  tuna kesi ambayo kwa kujenga hoja kwamba hii kampuni iko kwenye muflisi ile kesi tungeweza kushinda. Leo kuna baadhi ya wabunge wanahoji kuwa labda tunatumwa na Uingereza. Huyu Chikawe ni shahidi. Balozi wa Uingereza alikuja na delegation yake ya watu wa Standard Chartered kuniona kama Mwenyekiti wa POAC ku-lobby kwamba tuwaachie Standard Chartered wachukue hela za Escrow. Nikatoka nje ya kikao nikampigia simu Chikawe, wakati huo ni Waziri wa Justice, nikamwambia Chikawe hawa wanavunja diplomatic protocol, hawawezi kuja kwa Mwenyekiti wa Kamati hawana kibali cha Wizara ya Mambo ya Nje, wanakuja ku-lobby. Chikawe ni shahidi yangu akatae hapa, anikane. Hamna kingine kilichonituma kufanya hivyo, ni uzalendo kwa nchi yangu. Kwa hiyo, siwezi kuwajibu watu ambao kwa njia moja ama nyingine wameniparuraparura, siwezi kuwajibu; siwezi kuwajibu hata kidogo kwa sababu hawajui nini nilichokifanya kwa nchi hii.”

Now to translate that is a hurdle but let us give it a try: “I want to remind you and the Minister of Home Affairs is my witness. The money were (targeted) to start being stolen as early as 2008 and 2009. The Judge went ahead and removed the order of liquidating IPTL while we had a case that we could have won if we had argued that the company was in liquidation. Today there are some Members of Parliament who are alleging that some of us are sent by the UK. Chikawe here is my witness. The British Ambassador came with his/her delegation (with people) from Standard Chartered to see me as the Chair of POAC so as to lobby that we let Standard Chartered take the Escrow money. I came out of the meeting and called Chikawe who at that time was the Minister of Justice and told Chikawe that they are breaking diplomatic protocol, they cannot come to the Chair of the Committee without the permission of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, they are coming to lobby. Chikawe is my witness let him deny here, deny me. There is nothing else that sent me to do that; it is patriotism to my country. Therefore, I cannot answer the people who in one way or another have ruffled me, I can’t answer; I cannot answer them at all because they do not know what I have done for this country.”

Note the first year mentioned – 2008. The very same year that Joseph Casson apparently became SCB’s manager responsible for the distressed bank. Yes, the year the credit crunch hit hard to the extent that the Lehman Brothers collapsed in Wall Street.

Also note the second year mentioned – 2009. The very same year that SCB-HK apparently sent a letter, which is now being circulated online, to the then Executive Director of Tanzania National Electric Supply Company (TANESCO), Dr. Idris Rashid.

The preamble of the letter reads: “As you are aware, Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited (the Bank) is the lender and Independent Power Tanzania Limited (IPTL) is the borrower, under the Loan Facility Agreement (the LFA) dated 28 June 1997, relating to the Tegeta Power Project (the Project). The amount now due under the LFA (including principal, interest and other amounts recoverable thereunder) is approximately US$112 million”.

It then states: “Tanzania Electric… Supply Company Limited (Tanesco) is the off-take from the Project. It has an obligation to pay Capacity Charges under Article five of the Power Purchase Agreement between Tanesco and IPTL dated 26 May 1995 (the PPA)”.

The letter goes on to thus stress: “The Bank has the benefit of assigned rights, from IPTL, to recover from Tanesco payments due to IPTL under the PPA. The Bank can exercise those rights so as to recover payments due, either in its own name as assignee, or as IPTL, under the current ICSID proceedings commenced by IPTL against Tanesco”.

What follows in the letter is a narrative of how SCB-HK and TANESCO had a constructive dialogue that led to an “Agreed Plan” and an assertion that displaying “a constructive spirit, and notwithstanding reservations expressed (in good faith) by” the Executive Director of TANESCO’s “local advisers”, he “agreed to support” SCB-HK’s “attempt to have an Administrator appointed in relation to IPTL”. It then notes how its (unsuccessful) petition for the appointment of that Administrator was heard in the High Court “at the same time as the hearing of the IPTL Provisional Liquidator’s application to withdraw US$26 million from the Escrow Account (the Escrow Account)....”

Distressingly, the letter affirms that it is SCB-HK’s “view, and it is understood that this is a view shared by your legal advisers, that there is no reasonable likelihood of an Administration Order Being made in the foreseeable future, any attempt will be delayed and otherwise adversely affected by the efforts of the minority shareholder, VIP Engineering & Marketing Limited (VIP), notwithstanding that the position of VIP lacks any legal merit or foundation.” Understandably, the letter also complains vehemently about “Theophil Rugonzibwa” whom it states was “the Provincial Liquidator appointed over IPTL by an Order of the High Court of Tanzania dated 16 December 2008”.

 Given the fact that, according to page 25 of PAC’s report, Judge Prof. Eudes Ruhangisa’s account received Tsh 404.25 million and Judge J.A.K. Mujulizi’s account received Tsh 40.4 million when the face of VIP, James Rugemalila, used the funds he ultimately got from the Tegeta Escrow account via PAP to disburse money to various account in Mkombozi Commercial Bank, it would be interesting to know which Judge(s) issued the Order the said SCB’s letter above is referring to. Tellingly, the list that leaked online and in the media prior to the reading of PAC’s report also seems to contains the name of “Rugonzibwa Theophil” as receiving Tsh 323.4 million. PAC’s report also note on page 25 that Phillip Saliboko received Tsh 404. 4 million whereas CAG’s report thus note on page 43: “Tarehe 16 Machi 2012, Mahakama Kuu ya Tanzania chini ya Mh. Jaji Kaijage ilitoa uamuzi kwamba kampuni ya IPTL iendelee na ufilisi kamili na kumteuwa aliyekuwa mfilisi wa muda wa IPTL, Bw. Phillip Saliboko Afisa Mtendaji Mkuu wa RITA kuwa mfilisi kamili (Kielelezo 97).” It is thus tempting to title this part of the story “From Rugonzibwa to Saliboko via Rugemalila’s VIP: A Tale of Two IPTL Liquidators”.

Let us pause for a moment and take stock of the story. What we are seeing here assuming the letter is authentic – and there are many indications that it is – is the battle between SCB-HK and VIP. In other words, SCB-HK is apparently standing there as a substitute of the then major shareholder, i.e., MECHMAR. So far Pan African Power Solutions (T) Limited (PAP) is not (yet) in the picture. To put it simply, VIP wanted to quickly get something out of the Escrow account and ‘MECHMAR-cum-SCB-HK’ was attempting to stop that otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to use the money to pay IPTL debts.

Going back to the letter, we see SCB-HK jotting these complaints against the judiciary just after reiterating, among other things, that its Agreed Plan with TANESCO will suffer the same fate if there is an attempt to implement it through the Provisional Liquidator and affirming that SCB-HK cannot accept the Provisional Liquidator: “Regrettably, the courts will not take notice of the fact that the Bank has appointed a Receiver over the shares (the Shares) held by (both Mechmar and) VIP in IPTL. The Bank has exercised its rights under Share security given to it by both Mechmar and VIP and now controls the Shares absolutely, through its Receiver. The Bank asserts that it has the power to, and it will if so advised, sell the Shares to a third party and pass good title to them.”

Distressingly, it thus sums SCB-HK’s complaints: “The court simply will not hear the Bank’s and the Receiver’s application to have the Winding-up petition withdrawn and the Provisional Liquidator restrained. The Bank made another attempt at a hearing before the High Court on 18 September, but to no avail. Accordingly, it is clear to the Bank that its rights will not be enforced before the courts within the period required for the Agreed Plan, or at all…. The Bank believes that it has been treated unfairly and inequitably before the courts of Tanzania.”

It is as if the letter was anticipating these words that the Minister of Minerals and Energy, Professor Sospeter Muhongo uttered five years later in the parliament, as recorded on page 316 of the Hansard dated 30 May 2014, when responding to critics of the interpretation of Judge Utamwa’s ruling of 5 September 2013 that was ultimately used, contentiously, to justify the release of Escrow money to PAP: “Mwingine anasema eti tungengoja hukumu ya Uingereza, hiyo unadhalilisha Mahakama yetu. Wewe kama unataka kungoja unawahusudu kawangoje huko, lakini Mahakama yetu ni lazima isonge mbele.” Here is a modest translation: “Another one is even saying that we should have waited for the court ruling in the UK, that is to dishonor/despise our court. If you want to wait because you admire them go and wait for them there, but our court must move on.”

Such is the context that made the apparent letter from SCB-HK come with the following conclusion that has caused uproar among those who are against the PAC’s submission in the parliament that led to an allegedly more or less similar parliamentary resolution: “The Bank has proposed to your legal advisers that the Government of Tanzania immediately consider Nationalisation of IPTL. This would be with the support of the Bank and with the express objective of implementing the Agreed Plan…. If Nationalisation were to be agreed upon and implemented…. The whole process could be conducted through the Tanzanian Parliament. There would be no need to involve the courts....”

I don’t know who signed the said letter from SCB-HK to TANESCO so it may be unfair to even surmise/speculate/insinuate that it is Joseph Casson, notwithstanding the apparent similarity in the language used with that used in another document that we will analyze shortly. But before leaving it behind only to return to it at the end, it is important to note that it appears as if the 5-paged letter has been extracted from a longer dossier – probably an investigative one – as the latter’s juxtaposed page numbers run from 566 to 570.

We are now halfway through the story of Escrow. What we have seen so far is the battle between SCB-HK and VIP. What about PAP and Piper Link Investment (PLI)?

The clue to the mind-boggling jigsaw puzzle is CAG’s report and what PAC’s Chair said in his fiery End-of-Year speech in Mtwara on 31 December 2014. Let us start with CAG.

On page 26 CAG states in Swahili: “Tarehe 15 Desemba, 1973 na 26 Septemba, 1981 Bw. Tan Kean Wan… na Bw. Baharuden Bin Abd Majid Datuk …waliteuliwa kuwa wakurugenzi wa Mechmar (Rejea Kielelezo 55)”. In English, this simply means Mr. Tan and Baharuden became the directors of MECHMAR in 1973 and 1981, respectively.

CAG goes on to state this on page 27: Hata hivyo Kampuni ya Mechmar iliwekwa katika ufilisi na Mahakama Kuu ya Malaya, Kuala Lumpur kuanzia tarehe 18 Mei 2012 kufuatia Shauri la Madai Na. 28NCC-223-03/2012 lililofunguliwa na Alliance Investment Bank Berhad dhidi ya Mechmar Corporation (Malaysia) Berhad, ambapo Bw. Heng Ji Keng na Bw. Joseph Monteiro wa Ferrier Hodgson MH waliteuliwa kuwa wafilisi (Kielelezo 56).

Dear gentle, and not so gentle, readers, remember that the title of our article is “The Credit Crunch and the Quest for Escrow Money”. So here again we are seeing a distressed bank going to a commercial court in Malaysia to petition for the liquidation of MECHMAR. And who is/was MECHMAR again? It is/was the majority shareholder of IPTL with 70% whereas VIP was a minority shareholder with 30%. In essence inside Malaysia IPTL was de facto MECHMAR while inside Tanzania IPTL was de facto VIP. What I am trying to drive in here is that MECHMAR is/was a Malaysian company and VIP is/was a Tanzanian company no wonder the court cases dealing with IPTL in Malaysia tended to focus on MECHMAR.

Now let us go to Mtwara. There the Chair of PAC affirmed: “Watu watatu tu ambao ni raia wa kigeni walichora wizi huu kwa miaka mitatu. Mtu mmoja anaitwa Bwana Baharuddin [sic] kutoka Malaysia, Bwana Issa Ruwaih [sic] kutoka Oman na Bwana Singh kutoka Kenya na anaishi Afrika Kusini. Walidanganya nyaraka za kuuziana makampuni, bwana Baharuddin [sic] akauza hisa za IPTL kutoka Mechmar kwenda kwa Bwana Issa wa kampuni ya Piper Link na Bwana Issa naye akauza hisa hizo zikiwa zimezuiwa na Mahakama kwa Bwana Seth wa kampuni PAP.  Mabwana hawa wanajua Watanzania ni mazwazwa na hawafanyi uchunguzi wa kina, yaani ‘due diligence’ kwani hata kwenye EPA fedha ziliibiwa kwa kutofanya due diligence na kwa kutumia kitu kinaitwa ‘deed of assignment’. Mabwana hawa wanajua kuwa Watanzania wenye ofisi za umma wana njaa na watawahonga kidogo tu na kupitisha kila kitu. Ndivyo ilivyofanyika. Kama viongozi wetu wangefanya ‘due diligence’ kwenye manunuzi ya makampuni haya kama Sheria ya Kodi ya Mapato inavyowataka, tusingekuwa na skandali ya Tegeta Escrow. Mfumo uliganzishwa kwa rushwa. Ukitazama miamala ya malipo kutoka akaunti ya Bwana Seth katika akaunti ya StanBic utaona fedha zimekwenda benki za UAE na baadaye Oman na Malaysia. Fedha hizo zilikwenda kuwalipa mabwana Baharuddin [sic] na Issa.”

To save space and time we won’t translate this. A non-Swahili speaker should consult Google Translate and/or Swahili speakers. Here it suffice to say that one of three people mentioned is one of the two people we saw in the quote from CAG above and another one appears elsewhere in the CAG report – on page 28 to be precise. Distressed banks – creditors – wanted to liquidate their debtor – MECHMAR – but the latter thought otherwise.

So what did the court in Malaysia decide was within their jurisdiction (and what did it leave Tanzania to decided in its jurisdiction) about the respondent i.e. MECHMAR? According to the “Kielelezo 56” that CAG refered to above, it was ordered, among other things, that “No one other than the lawfully appointed Liquidators by the  High Court of Malaysia (Mr.  Heng Ji Keng and  Michael Joseph  Monteiro), has any right to conduct or direct the affairs of, or represent the Respondent in  Malaysia, Tanzania and anywhere in  the World”. In other words, no one – not even PLI in BVI or PAP in TEGETA – could represent MECHMAR.

This Court Order also affirmed that these Liquidators “have the power, authority and ability” to “act for, represent and conduct or direct the affairs of” MECHMAR;  “carry on legal  proceedings in the  name of  and the  business of” MECHMAR “so far as may be necessary for a  beneficial winding-up” and to “take  action to  preserve and recover assets of” MECHMAR. In other words, including whatever MECHMAR have – if they had anything at all therein – in the Tegeta Escrow Account as they were the majority shareholder of IPTL.

To make this decision that was made in Malaysia effective in Tanzania, the Court Order also affirmed that “the Liquidators would require assistance from Advocates and solicitors in Tanzania to assist the Liquidators with the performance of its duties in Tanzania.” Logically/Naturally SCB-HK had to side with these Liquidators of MECHMAR because what they would get would help them pay the IPTL debts.

Little wonder the British followed closely on the matter and after PAP and VIP decided to bury their differences and thus seemingly outsmart SCB-HK, the donor community froze part of their budgetary support to exert pressure on the Tanzanian government to act on ufisadi (grand corruption). For us it is a blessing in disguise – a battle for our money that makes us know what we did not know.

How on earth can SCB-HK not be a key interested party yet we see Martha Kaveni Renju whom, according to page 28 of CAG’s special audit on Escrow, SCB-HK appointed to be its Official Share Receiver of MECHMAR and VIP shares in IPTL, pursue the matter in court aggressively and successfully as far as the “British Virgin Islands (BVI)”?

One cannot help but wonder why didn’t CAG also focus on the following cases that it thus listed in passing on page 50: “viii. Martha Kaveni Renju the Administrator Receiver of IPTL dhidi ya IPTL na VIP Engineering and Marketing ltd Shauri Na.98 la 2013,
ix. Shauri la Mapitio Na.1 la 2012 kati ya Standard Chartered Bank (hong Kong) dhidi ya Mechmar Corporation, VIP Engineering and Marketing, IPTL, The Liquidator of IPTL, The Bank of Tanzania, TANESCO na TRA katika Mahakama ya Rufaa ya Tanzania”.

In his response to the ongoing online public debate in Wanazuoni Forum, Dr. Hamisi Kigwangalla who was invited to participate in preparing PAC’s parliamentary report on Escrow, thus stated on 7 January 2015: “Kwa maoni yangu, mpaka sasa wamiliki halali wa IPTL bado ni utata mtupu. Hususan baada ya uchunguzi kubaini kuwa hisa halali za MECHMAR anazo SCB-HK”. This can be translated as follows: “In my opinion, up to now the legitimate owners(hip) of IPTL is still totally ambigious. This is especially so after the auditing/investigation found out that SCB-HK has the legitimate shares of MECHMAR….”

Earlier on – 3 January 2015 – in the same online public forum the Chair of PAC, Zitto Kabwe, thus responded to Salim Khatri, his main critic therein on the SCB-HK and related Escrow matters: “…. Kesi hiyo ilifunguliwa na IPTL na siyo hiyo benki. Kwa kuwa IPTL iliwekwa chini ya mchakato wa ufilisi hapa Tanzania, hiyo benki ndio ikaingia kwenye kesi. Hili ni muhimu ulijue. Mwisho, Mimi naamini benki hiyo ilishalipwa chake na tanesco haihusiki na mkopo wake. Naamini pia kuwa PAP ni kampuni ya kitapeli. Mpaka sasa hakuna anayejua 50% ya PAP chini ya Simba Trust ni Mali ya nani….”

One may thus translate it: “…. The said case was initiated by IPTL and not that bank. It is because IPTL was put under liquidation here in Tanzania that this bank became part of the case. It is important for you to know this. Lastly, I believe this bank got paid what belongs to it and Tanesco is not responsible for its loan. I also believe that PAP is a crooked company. Up to now no one knows the 50% of PAP under Simba Trust is whose property….”

It won’t be an act of betrayal for our heroic whistleblowers to acknowledge that the British – like the Americans in the case of Ubungo – have/had their own financial interests on the Tegeta matter and thus, wittingly and/or unwittingly, assisted us in knowing, albeit partially the story behind Escrow. Who said budgetary aid does not have strings attached to it? International Relations (IR) as far as Africa is concerned is all about: (1) aid; (2); debt (3) trade. But formulaic it is ‘aid to trade through debt.’ We get aid from the donors and trade with them through their companies/banks while getting indebted through loans.

That is why activists agitate for debt cancelation, doing away with “toxic aid” /”dead aid” and calling for “fair trade.” Some say they are just being ideological. That they don’t like business and capitalism. But they are simply presenting/exposing business as it is – i.e. ‘business as usual’ – in contrast to how it ought to be.

Now before we conclude let us move to another letter that is also being circulated online purportedly to support PAP in their battle against SCB-HK. If it is indeed authentic, as it also seems to be, then it shows that the bank was too distressed to the extent that it was eager to strike a deal with PAP so that it can at least get (some) money from the Escrow Account. Dated 18 September 2012, it has this opening statement: “We refer to the Memorandum of Agreement between Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited and Pan Africa Power Solutions (T) Limited dated 25 November 2011 (the “MoA”)”.

Then it states: “Notwithstanding the expiry of the MoA we confirm that the Bank is prepared to accept a single off payment of US$75,000,000 (United States Dollars seventy five million) in settlement of the Company’s obligations, provided that the payment is received on or before 30 September 2012 or any longer date advised by the bank at its sole option.” The attached MoA therein contains, among other things this statement: “As at the Relevant Date, IPTL was indebted to SCB in the aggregate unpaid principal plus accrued and unpaid interests, together with enforcement and other costs recoverable from IPTL under the Loan Agreement in the amount of approximately US$130,000,000.”

Apparently, on the side of PAP the name/signature that appears in that MoA is that of Harbinder Singh Sethi. On the side of SCB-HK the apparent name/signature is that of none other than Joseph Casson. As critics of PAC’s report have queried in regard to SCB-HK, if it is indeed, what business did he/they have with an alleged ‘tapeli’ (i.e. ‘crook’)?

Among other things that had to be done at Completion, it is noted in the said MoA, PAP shall: “transfer the Settlement to SCB”; “provide “know your client” evidence in regard to” PAP “satisfactory to SCB”; “provide evidence satisfactory of the consent of IPTL to the assignment of the Loan to” PAP. The remaining question is: Did that ever happen?

If it did happen why, then, did Joseph Casson submit, on behalf of SCB-HK, a request for debt repayment to the tune of US$125,970,570.67 to then Liquidator of IPTL, Phillip G. Saliboko, on 24 April 2012, as indicated on page 43 of the CAG special audit report on Escrow? Is it because at that time SCB-HK had no way out but to try to get whatever it could get from the Liquidator but when VIP shrewdly and successfully requested the court on 30 August 2013 to halt the Liquidation (as noted on page 51 and 52 of CAG’s report) to enable PAP to get the Escrow money and pay VIP and all IPTL creditors, SCB-HK was left behind?

If it did not happen, who paid SCB-HK the money that IPTL owed it via MECHMAR (and even VIP)? Was it PAP or TANESCO? If not, then, who, when and where? Or it didn’t get paid after all?

It is these questions that our national heroes and supporters ought to answer instead of evading what can be dubbed ‘The SCB-HK Question’. If this is not important, where did the Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Minerals and Energy, Stephen J. Masele, get the audacity to rant and rave against the donor community and even go as far as asserting in the parliamentary session on 30 May 2014, as documented from page 301 to 304 of theHansard, that they had evidence to prove the involvement of a British Ambassador in lobbying for Standard Chartere Bank in Dodoma and Dar es Salaam? Did he really lie to the Parliament?

But if they can’t say it as it is, it is understandable. Liberal politics – or democracy and diplomacy – is about give and take as Nelson Mandela’s negotiations to end Apartheid in South Africa reminds us. Well, there is no such thing as ‘the winner takes it all’ in such ‘politics of compromises’. You grab what you can get today lest you don’t get anything at all. Then you go your way and wait for yet another day. After all, many of us opt to live today so we can fight tomorrow. In doing so we indeed keep some words to ourselves as credit/collateral/alibi or even opt to shut ours ears and close eyes so we can ‘see no evil, hear no evil’ no more.  Little wonder stories remain incomplete – tales to be told and contested over and over again. What ought to be simple – i.e. truth – becomes complex.

While some of our heads role to satisfy our modicum of democracy and accountability, speculations and conspiracy theories continue to abound about Simba Trust, HydroTanz, Stanbick Bank and so forth. The truth thus becomes, not only complex, but also elusive.

That proverbial curiosity that killed a cat remains unquenched. If it is IPTL that was supposed to sort out its problems with our TANESCO so that one – or both – of them could get money from the Tegeta Escrow account, who was/is IPTL when the Bank of Tanzania (BOT) succumbed to the pressure to release the money? Is it the erstwhile IPTL of MECHMAR and VIP? Who can tell and has indeed told us who IPTL was in 2014? Did CAG say? What about PAC? Perhaps PCCB said so? Or maybe the DPP did so?

Who is IPTL? Is it the ‘crooked’ PAP, the ‘shrewd’ VIP, the ‘runaway’ MECHMAR, the ‘bypassed’ SCB-HK, or it is ‘simply’ nobody?

As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie reminds us, beware of the danger of a single story. Such an Escrow story can sow seeds of doubts. Yet these seeds can help us complete the story.

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