UK Parliament Proposes International Anti-corruption Court To Freeze Corrupt Officials' Assets
British parliamentarians have proposed the establishment of an International Anti-Corruption Court (IACC) to freeze billions of US dollars kept abroad by corrupt government officials, including ruling ZANU PF officials.
Lord Jonathan Oates accused ZANU PF of state capture and uncontrolled corruption, hindering Zimbabwe’s progress. He cited Al Jazeera’s investigative report, Gold Mafia, which reported alleged illicit financial flows involving President Emmerson Mnangagwa, his wife Auxillia, niece Henrietta Rushwaya, and Special Envoy Uebert Angel, a Zimbabwean-born British citizen.
The IACC proposal is part of amendments to the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill currently under consideration in the House of Lords. Oates said:
The ZANU-PF regime is mired in corruption, which has robbed the Zimbabwean people of what should be a bright economic future. Instead of serving the people, regime leaders, aided by corrupt businesspeople and a prosecutorial and judicial system entirely captured by the ruling party, loot the country at will.
Few of these kleptocrats keep their ill-gotten gains at home. Billions of dollars of stolen assets are laundered in a number of countries, including China, Hong Kong, Dubai, Singapore, Monaco, Switzerland, some states of the United States, UK overseas territories and, shamefully, London.
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Recently, the Al Jazeera documentary ‘Gold Mafia’ secretly filmed Zimbabwe officials and business contacts conspiring to launder illicit funds. Those filmed included at least three British citizens—Angel, Rikki Doolan and Kamlesh Pattni—who made clear on camera their willingness to act corruptly.
While British authorities can act on crimes committed under UK jurisdiction, there is no international mechanism to prosecute kleptocrats and to seize and return their illicit funds. This gaping vacuum can be filled only by establishing an international anti-corruption court that can hold corrupt leaders and their co-conspirators accountable.
Oates suggested that an International Anti-Corruption Court could freeze and repatriate stolen assets held abroad by corrupt government officials. The court could also repurpose and repatriate the funds when they can reach the real victims.
Oates urged countries where laundered funds are held to join the court to facilitate the recovery of stolen assets. He also called for an investigation into Uebert Angel, Doolan, and Pattni after their alleged involvement in illicit financial flows was exposed in Al Jazeera’s Gold Mafia report.
Transparency International (TI) estimates that Zimbabwe loses US$1 billion to corruption annually. Tendai Biti, an opposition politician, believes that the funds could revive the country’s struggling healthcare system.
Baroness Patience Wheatcroft supports Oates’ proposal for an International Anti-Corruption Court (IACC) and refers to corrupt state leaders as “greedy financial war criminals.” Wheatcrost said kleptocrats have the impunity to act as they wish in their home countries as they control the police, prosecutors, and courts, causing significant damage to their countries.