Saturday, August 22, 2009

British govt following Chiluba’s $46m civil case with interest

British govt following Chiluba’s $46m civil case with interest
Written by Chibaula Silwamba and Ernest Chanda
Saturday, August 22, 2009 6:02:12 AM

THE British government has said it is following the civil case against former president Frederick Chiluba in which the London High Court ordered him to pay back US $46 million to Zambia.

And United States Embassy deputy public affairs officer Veldhuizen Stealy has said Chiluba's appearance in court over the last seven years for alleged abuse of public funds shows that no one is above the law.

Commenting on the acquittal of Chiluba, the British High Commission in Zambia on Thursday said it had followed Chiluba's case with great interest.

The High Commission said it was carefully studying the judgment where the Lusaka magistrate court acquitted Chiluba on corruption charges of stealing US $500,000.

"We have followed this case with great interest, as it is an important case for Zambia and the Zambian people. We will need to study this judgment very carefully before commenting further on it," said the British High Commission in response to a press query.

"We are also following the civil case against former President Chiluba, which was concluded in favour of Zambia in the London High Court in May 2007 with the court ordering former president Chiluba to pay back US $46 million to Zambia. This case is in the process of being registered in Zambia for the judgment to be enforceable.

"It is the Zambian authorities who brought both the criminal and civil cases against Mr Chiluba, in Zambia and in the UK [United Kingdom]. The fact that this was done shows that no one is above scrutiny by the law. The UK looks forward to the continuing commitment by the government of Zambia and the President to fighting corruption. We look forward to a further institutionalisation of the fight against high level corruption in Zambia."

The British High Commission pledged that the UK would continue to actively support the government of Zambia in its efforts to combat corruption.

"The UK through DFID has provided financial and technical support to the wider investigative capacity of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Task Force on Corruption," said the British High Commission.

On Monday, Ndola High Court registrar Jones Chinyama, sitting as a magistrate in Lusaka, acquitted Chiluba on all counts of embezzling public funds amounting to US$500,000 but imprisoned his co-accused Access Financial Services Limited (AFSL) former directors Faustin Kabwe and Aaron Chungu for five years with hard labour.

Soon after his acquittal, during a media briefing at his Kabulonga residence, Chiluba accused the British government of instigating his prosecution and said he would later talk more on corruption in Britain.

"We shall talk about many things, how governments have been run, particularly in Africa, because we are poor therefore every foreigner must bring his dollars and orders you to arrest your president. I am just waiting for a list from England of MPs who stole money but the papers do not write about the British thieves. So we shall talk about that because the Speaker of the House of Commoners resigned because he was trying to protect the thieves. It is only in England where an MP takes money to the Church as an offering and claims it from Parliament. Oh, yes only there. So what moral high ground are they on?" Chiluba asked.

And in a statement, Stealy said true hard work depended on responsible governments that reject corruption.

"The fact that former president Chiluba was brought to trial in Zambia for corruption shows that no one is above scrutiny by the law. As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton stated recently in Kenya, 'true economic progress depends not only on the hard work of millions of

people who get up every day and do the best they can, often under overwhelming circumstances; it also depends on responsible governments that reject corruption, enforce the rule of law, and deliver results for their people,'" stated Stealy.

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