21 Mar 2009

Dar es Salaam

CONTROVERSY surrounds the mysterious disappearance of a large consignment of local currency notes with a value running into millions of Tanzanian shillings, as it was being airlifted into the country from Germany on a Qatar Airways flight.

Sources within the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) have confirmed the apparent large-scale theft which was discovered on arrival at the Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam early last week.

It has yet to be established exactly at what point the consignment of bank notes got stolen whether it was in Germany, where the notes were manufactured; in Doha, where the flight made a stopover; or at the final JNIA destination in Dar es Salaam.

According to THISDAY findings, the consignment contained crisp new bank notes of 10,000/- denomination. However, the exact number of such notes involved � and hence the total value of the package � could not be immediately verified.

’’The consignment arrived at the airport in Dar es Salaam on the evening of Monday, March 9. But because the following day was a Maulid holiday, it could not be dealt with until Wednesday, March 11. That’s when it was discovered that the notes were gone,’’ said an informed BoT source.

It is understood that besides the new 10,000/- notes, the consignment also contained a substantial amount of old local currency notes that had long been removed from circulation.

Said the source: ’’The old notes were under audit query...during an earlier auditing exercise, the auditors wanted to know why these notes had not been returned for so many years since being sent to the printers overseas because of various technical problems.’’

But it remains unclear of what use the old notes long out of circulation were expected to be at this moment in time, or whether the government or central bank has received or is expecting any compensation from the company manufacturing the notes.

The discovery of a consignment of defective Tanzanian currency notes with a total value of 3.5bn/- back in 2001, led to serious repercussions including the launch of an official investigation by the then Prevention of Corruption Bureau (PCB).

However, no arrests or prosecutions were ever made.

The notes were printed by the German company Glesecke & Devrient Gmbh, on behalf of the Bank of Tanzania (BoT). They were of 1,000-shilling denomination, amounting to a total value of $3,237,492.

Following this scandal, the government vetoed central bank plans to award another print order to the same German firm, while the defective notes were said to have been quietly withdrawn from circulation.



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