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MTN Beeg fraud suspects formally arrested

By Edith Mwale, Lusaka, Zambia

The Drug Enforcement Commission and the Zambia Police Service have formally arrested charged two people at the centre of embarrassing allegations that the winner of the MTN Zambia win Beeg competition was faked.

The MTN Zambia IT specialist Jones Ilukena is accused of having manipulated the computer system to make his girlfriend Namuchana Simuna winner of the competition. Since last month, police and the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) have been investigating the alleged fraud against the winner of the promotion Simuna and the MTN IT specialist Ilukena.

The police have now formally arrested and charged the two with fraud and money laundering offences.

DEC public relations officer Samuel Silomba said Simuna of Livingstone, the alleged winner of K1 billion promotion, has been arrested and jointly charged with Ilukena, the MTN employee of Lusaka.

Silomba said it is also believed that Ilukena, Simuna and other persons unknown cheated by purporting that Simuna was a genuine winner of the promotion when, in fact, the outcome had been predetermined in her favour by Ilikena's manipulating the MTN IT system. 

“Ilukena is alleged to have intentionally and without authority interfered with data of MTN Summer Campaign WIN BEEG promotion by virtual of his position, contrary to Section 99 (2) of the Electronic Communications Act no. 21 of 2009,” Silomba said.

The DEC has further seized all property believed to have been bought using the money from the promotion.

Silomba said the DEC has also arrested and charged Richard Kawana, a Teacher of Mulwani Basic School in Livingstone, for money laundering related offences. Ilukena and Simuna are alleged to have purchased a house using the money from the promotion at K320 million, which they registered under Kawana’s name.

Silomba said Simuna further acquired three houses in Livingstone at a total cost of K330 million, as well as a Toyota motor vehicle.

In trying to recover from its damaged reputation and embarrassment, MTN Zambia has announced that it will rerun the promotion using the same database in order to get a genuine winner. The date for the rerun of the promotion has not yet been made known.

Ilukena is still suspended from MTN.

The Zambian police have threatened to start monitoring promotions by mobile phone companies in Zambia in future, in order to prevent a repeat of the MTN scandal. 

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