He who conceals property can never be directly linked to the property that is concealed, an Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) investigations officer told the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court, Friday, before the State closed its case against Housing and Infrastructure Development Minister Ronald Chitotela and three others.
Christopher Siwakwi was asked in cross-examination if during his investigations, he established any evidence, which directly linked Chitotela to the US $300,000 that China Harbour sent to Andrew and Partners account and was alleged to have been used to purchase two properties, to which he said no.
And Siwakwi admitted to the Court that no warrant of access to information was served on Chitotela during investigations.
Meanwhile, Principal Magistrate David Simusamba has set July 8, 2019, for a ruling on case to answer in the matter.
This is the matter in which Chitotela and three others are facing four counts of concealing and being in possession of properties suspected to be proceeds of crime.
It is alleged, in one of the counts, that Chitotela, Gregory Chibanga and Brut Holdings Limited, between July 3, 2016, and October 30, last year in Lusaka, concealed lot number 148 of farm 50A situated in Makeni disguised in the names of Diris Mukange, property reasonably suspected of being proceeds of crime.
It is further alleged that the trio between the same dates concealed part of subdivision A lot 22183/M situated in Ibex Hill, Lusaka, disguised in the name of Diris Mukange, property reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime.
Previously, the witness told the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court that he established during his investigations that Chitotela was in control of the two properties which he is accused of concealing.
Siwakwi also explained to the Court how he got puzzled after discovering that Brut Engineering claimed to have been paid by China Harbour for feasibility studies on the Kawambwa-Mporokoso Road on a date that fell before the Road Development Agency (RDA) actually awarded the contract to the Chinese firm.
And when the matter came up on Friday for continued trial and cross-examination, the officer told the Court that he concluded from his investigations that Chitotela concealed the two properties in Makeni and Ibex Hill with the help of Chibanga and Brut Holdings.
Siwakwi said this being the reason, he made up his mind to jointly-charge and arrest the accused persons for the offence of concealing property reasonably suspected of being proceeds of crime.
He said that after analysing documents and interviewing witnesses, he came to a conclusion that the US $300,000, which came from China Harbour Engineering Limited, was money reasonably suspected of being proceeds of crime and concluded that the two properties in Makeni and Ibex Hill were bought from the same money.
Siwakwi said this was done by purporting that Brut had conducted a feasibility consultancy study on the upgrading of the Kawambwa-Mporokoso road, thereby, receiving US $300,000 from China Harbour, which was used to purchase the properties, when in fact Brut did not do such works.
He said this was because at the time Brut Holdings claimed to have done the consultancy services, there was no contract between China Harbour and RDA, and that RDA was not aware of the services, which were rendered by Brut to China Harbour.
Siwakwi said it was further his conclusion that Brut Holdings was not capable of conducting any engineering works in Zambia seeing that it was not registered by both the National Construction Council (NCC) and the Engineering Institute of Zambia (EIZ).
In cross-examination by defence lawyers; James Matarilo, Noel Simwanza, Mark Haimbe and Jonas Zimba, the investigations officer told the Court that no warrant of access to information was issued on Chitotela during investigations.
And Siwakwi said when warning and cautioning Chitotela and Chibanga in connection with the allegations, the duo opted to remain silent.
Asked if during his investigations, he established any evidence, which directly linked Chitotela to the US $300,000 alleged to have been used to purchase two properties, the witness said no.
Siwakwi, however, added that “he who conceals property can never be directly linked to the property, which is concealed.”
Asked if he had questioned Mr Kunda from Andrews and Partners why the money (US $300,000) that he received was being claimed by Brut Holdings, the witness responded in the negative.
Further asked if he had also questioned China Harbour regarding the money, the witness said no.
After the defence finished cross-examining the 21st witness, the State closed its case, at which point Magistrate Simusamba set July 8, 2019, as date for ruling on whether Chitotela and the others have a case to answer.