Tanzanian leader suggests amnesty for financial crimes

DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) - Tanzania’s president said on Sunday people held on charges of tax evasion, money laundering and other financial crimes should be freed if they confess and return the cash.

John Magufuli said it was only a recommendation - and it was not immediately clear what impact his words would have on a number of recent detentions of business executives and other figures including the journalist Erick Kabendera.

“There are some suspects being held in detention for three years now. I feel sorry for them,” Magufuli said during a ceremony swearing in new government officials at State House in Dar es Salaam.

“Those who are ready to apologize and confess their wrongdoings should sit down with the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) and work out a payment plan for the taxes they have evaded or the money that they have laundered and then they can be released from detention.”

Magufuli said the move would help ease crowding in prisons and raise money for government spending.

“This is just my recommendation ...I don’t want to be seen to be interfering in the judiciary process,” he added.

The Committee to Protect Journalists and other rights groups have said they are concerned about Kabendera, a freelance reporter who was detained in July on charges including failure to pay tax and money laundering. He denies the charges.

At least three Tanzanian executives with Acacia Mining were charged last year with money laundering and other crimes, and detained. They have denied any wrongdoing.

Reporting by Fumbuka Ng’wanakilala and Nuzulack Dausen; editing by Elias Biryabarema and Andrew Heavens