In a significant development, the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) in Zambia, through its Anti-Money Laundering Investigations Unit, has apprehended a 41-year-old businessman, Richard Mutela, on charges of fraud and money laundering. The arrest follows a detailed investigation into a series of alleged criminal activities.
Richard Mutela faces a litany of charges, including Forgery and Uttering False Documents, Possession of Property Suspected of Being Proceeds of Crime, Unauthorized Access to Data, and Money Laundering. These charges are in violation of various sections of the Penal Code, the Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crime Act, the Cybersecurity and Cybercrimes Act, and the Prohibition and Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
According to the particulars of the offences, Mutela, in collaboration with unknown accomplices, forged 25 Green National Registration Cards (NRCs) between January 1, 2023, and August 24, 2023. Some of these fake NRCs were created in the names of suspected foreign nationals.
Using one of the counterfeit NRCs under the identity of “Moses Phiri,” Mutela managed to open an account at a prominent commercial bank and subsequently conducted transactions using this false identity. Authorities have since frozen the account, holding a balance of K198,020. Additionally, Mutela gained unauthorized access to various ATM cards from different commercial banks and engaged in money laundering activities using the proceeds of crime.
At the time of his arrest, Mutela was found in possession of 25 counterfeit NRCs, 20 ATM cards from various commercial banks, as well as K130,290 in cash and US $1,000. Authorities have also confiscated a Toyota Vitz vehicle with registration number BAZ 2644. Mutela is currently on bond and is expected to appear in court soon to face these charges.
In a separate incident, the Anti-Money Laundering Investigations Unit has also apprehended 29-year-old banker Sailas Singogo from a well-known commercial bank. Singogo faces charges of Fraudulent False Accounting, Theft by Servant, and Money Laundering, as per sections of the Penal Code and the Money Laundering Act.
Singogo, in conjunction with unidentified individuals, allegedly engaged in fraudulent accounting activities amounting to K403,650.17 between December 1, 2022, and August 18, 2023. He purportedly transferred these ill-gotten funds into his personal bank accounts, falsely presenting the transfers as legitimate transactions.
The DEC expressed grave concern over the escalating levels of fraud in the country and urged the public to safeguard their identity documents, such as National Registration Cards (NRCs), passports, driving licenses, and ATM cards, to prevent them from falling into the hands of organized criminal networks.
Fraud poses a significant threat to economic activities, and the Commission called upon all stakeholders to collaborate in their efforts to combat this menace.
Both Mutela and Singogo are currently on bond and are expected to face legal proceedings in the near future.