Firms in laundering case free to access funds, court orders – New Vision
By Ephraim Kasozi
- On May 25, 2018, Financial Intelligence Authority issued directives to the companies’ bankers instructing them to freeze all funds on their respective bank accounts.
- Government had accused Sundus Exchange and Money Transfer Ltd of using its licence to facilitate money laundering and deliberately operating business in violation of Foreign Exchange regulations.
Court has ordered government to unfreeze bank accounts of six companies and their directors who had been accused of money laundering and financing terrorism.
The Civil Division of the High Court on Friday ruled that the companies and their directors were free to access their funds and operate their respective accounts in Bank of Africa, Equity Bank, Stanbic Bank, Diamond Trust Bank, KCB Bank, and Barclays Bank.
Court also quashed the decision of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to charge and prosecute the applicants and have their funds frozen, ruling that there was no complainant.
“The DPP’s investigative actions leading to the decision to charge and prosecute the applicants are tainted with illegality and it violates powers and authority of the DPP and breaches the Constitution. This cannot be condoned,” the court ruled.
The companies Sundus Exchange and Money Transfer Limited, Haleel Commodities Limited, Victory Group of Companies Limited, Qemat Al Najah Gen. Trade Limited, City Love General Trading Limited, and Hilowle General Trading Company Limited, and their directors sued the Attorney General challenging the DPP decision.
Through their lawyers, the operators of money remittance and Forex Bureau as well as trading and brokerage firms accused the DPP of acting illegally, highhandedly, vindictively, irrationally, in bad faith, unreasonably and in breach of the rules of natural justice,
Mr Joseph Matsiko, their lawyer, said the DPP’s decision was taken without additional or new evidence implicating his clients after they were cleared by other agencies.
Court heard that the Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) then referred the matter to the DPP who charged the complainants after a 2018 police CIID investigations report stated that there was no evidence showing that they were involved in any money laundering or financing terrorism.
“It is rather intriguing why in spite of all that, the DPP by itself continued purporting to investigate the matter on the matter on the basis of which it took a decision to charge the applicants. It is more so, when the original complainant (FIA) had given up on the complaint and when no new evidence was forthcoming to support the DPP’s decision to charge,” court ruled.
On May 25, 2018, Financial Intelligence Authority issued directives to the companies’ bankers instructing them to freeze all funds on their respective bank accounts.
Government had accused Sundus Exchange and Money Transfer Ltd of using its licence to facilitate money laundering and deliberately operating business in violation of Foreign Exchange regulations.