THE State has submitted to the Lusaka High Court that DEC received information from a reliable source to the effect that Lusaka businessman Valden Findlay, his wife Dessislava and his companies illegally received huge payments from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice.
The State has disclosed that the Ministry of Finance allegedly paid out an amount of K386,265,277 to Dessislava Findlay (Trading as D Findlay and Associates) between December 1, 2016 and August 17, 2021.
The Attorney General further argues that the bank accounts belonging to Findlay and his companies were frozen by DEC based on reasonable suspicion that they were involved in money laundering activities, hence the need to safeguard the said money, which is believed to belong to the government.
This is a matter in which Findlay, his wife Dessislava and his companies have petitioned the Lusaka High Court, demanding the release of their seized bank accounts on ground that they have not been duly informed of the reasons for the seizure, or the allegations against them.
Findlay argued that the funds held in his bank accounts were derived from rental income and various business activities he has ordinarily been engaged in, with respective tax liabilities having been duly paid and which funds can easily be verified and explained.
The petitioners, Findlay, Dessislava, Dessislava Findlay (trading as D Findlay and Associates), Twatotela Properties Limited, Chrismar Earth Moving Equipment Limited and Greenview Service Providers Limited cited the Attorney General as the respondent.
But in its answer, the State argued that the bank accounts were frozen by DEC based on reasonable suspicion that the petitioners were involved in money laundering activities.
“The respondent shall say that DEC received information from a reliable source in which it was alleged that the petitioners herein illegally received huge payments from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice respectively. The respondent shall also say that the Ministry of Finance paid out an amount of K386,265,277.00 to the third petitioner between December 1, 2016 and August 17, 2021. Premised on the foregoing, the respondent shall say that the subject bank accounts were frozen by DEC based on reasonable suspicion that the petitioners were involved in money laundering activities and there was need to safeguard the money in the subject accounts which is reasonably believed to belong to the Government of Zambia,” the State submitted.
The State argued that no communication was made to the petitioners as DEC was still investigating the alleged money laundering activities.
“Therefore, communicating intricate details about the criminal investigations would prejudice the State’s interest. DEC neither authored nor published any false, malicious or defamatory statements against the first petitioner (Findlay). The respondent shall further say that the petitioners have not been formally communicated to, engaged, summoned, arrested or charged as the DEC is still carrying out investigations. The respondent shall also say that DEC does not have any legal obligation to communicate the findings of an on going criminal investigation to the petitioners as doing so would not only be premature, but would also prejudice the outcome of the investigations,” submitted the State.
“DEC can only arrest, charge or warn and caution the petitioners once criminal investigations have been concluded and sufficient evidence has been found to warrant the arrest of the petitioners. The respondent shall further say that the proceedings before this honourable court are not only an attempt to gather information on the ongoing criminal investigations, therefore, prejudicing the outcome of the investigations. The respondent shall further say that one of the reasons for seizing or freezing the petitioners’ bank accounts is to prevent the petitioners from moving or dealing with the money in the subject accounts so as not to jeopardize the criminal investigations.”
The petitioners are in this matter seeking a declaratory order that the seizure notices issued by the Drug Enforcement Commission on their bank accounts with First Alliance Bank (Z) Limited without reasonable ground to believe that the funds are derived from or acquired from money laundering are illegal, wrongful and in contravention of their constitutional rights.
They also want a declaratory order that the search conducted by the Anti-Corruption Commission at Findlay’s private residence in New Kasama and at Langani Ranch, Chisamba, without a valid court order, a valid search warrant, in the petitioner’s absence and without their consent is illegal, wrongful and in contravention of their constitutional rights.
The petitioners are further seeking compensation in money terms for the unlawful arbitrary seizure of their funds, for the destruction and damage at the residential property in New Kasama and for the willful conduct of the law enforcement agencies aimed at tarnishing the petitioners’ reputation and punishing them without affording them a fair hearing.