Friday, March 14, 2008
By Brighton Phiri
Friday March 14, 2008 [03:00]
THE Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) yesterday said they have not arrested Kaweche Kaunda in connection with the transfer of US $7 million from Jamaica because he is not the principal suspect. Commenting on Kaweche's challenge for the DEC to arrest him instead of the Jamaican woman who is charged for money laundering involving US $7 million, DEC spokesperson Roston Chulu said their investigations revealed that Ingrid Loiten was the principal suspect, hence her arrest.
"I would not want to comment on what has come out in the paper. But as far as we are concerned, the principle has been arrested," said Chulu in reference to Kaweche's challenge to the DEC to arrest him instead of Loiten because he was the prime mover of the transfer of the US $7 million.
But Kaweche insisted yesterday that he should be the one to be arrested because he was the one who asked Loiten to use her personal account to transfer the money.
"Why are they separating me from the case when they know that I have been dealing with them over this same matter for some time?" Kaweche asked.
Investrust Bank chairman Friday Ndhlovu declined to comment, saying it was not right for the bank to issue a statement on the matter that was before the courts of law.
Home affairs minister Lt Gen Ronnie Shikapwasha refused to comment on Kaweche's challenge, saying the DEC were the right institution to deal with the matter.
The DEC arrested and charged Loiten with money laundering, failing to account for the money and falsification of documents.
And Loiten disclosed yesterday in a telephone interview from Johannesburg that the US $7 million was sourced from a Jamaican investor who had shown interest in investing in the Mfuwe development project.
According to Loiten, a Jamaican investor directed his company, which had account with a financial lending institution, to transfer the money to Zambia.
"This financial lending institution is listed on the Jamaican Stock Exchange. I wonder how such an institution can allow me to use it to transfer dirty money," she said.
Loiten said the Mfuwe development project, which was designed for the construction of two factories, a financial institution, skills training centre and over 4000 low cost houses for the local people, attracted interest among investors from Jamaica, Unites States of America and Israel.
She said one of the American investors demanded for a government grant before releasing funds while the Israeli investor sent to Zambia a technical team to assess the feasibility of the project.
She said upon concluding the preliminary plans of the project, she approached her contact from the European Union Development Council and Overseas Private Investment Commission for support.
"I am amazed to see the massive undeveloped land in Mfuwe. Since I have a lot of contacts of financial support, I begun soliciting for support. The support was overwhelming from the investors," Loiten said.
She said the US $7 million was meant for fundraising activities towards the project, which was estimated to cost over US $60 million. She said she had been involved in strategic planning with Educate Jamaica Network.
Earlier, Loiten said both her family members and financiers from the European Union and oil producing countries supported the project proposal.
She wondered why Investrust Bank rushed to report her to DEC when she had discussed with the bank before they allowed her to transfer the money for the project.
"It is not that the bank did not know what I was doing. They knew before the money was transferred," she said.