via Airzim boss found guilty | The Herald February 11, 2014 by Daniel Nemukuyu
Air Zimbabwe (Private) Limited company secretary Mrs Grace Pfumbidzayi has been found guilty of defrauding the airline of 5 175 593 and US$1 204 670 in an aviation insurance scam. A disciplinary tribunal chaired by Harare lawyer Mr Wellington Pasipanodya last Friday found that she facilitated payments of inflated premiums to an insurance company.
The tribunal also found her guilty of acting contrary to her contract of employment.
The tribunal reserved the penalty, though there are indications that she now faces the sack.
Yesterday, suspended Air Zimbabwe acting chief executive Mr Innocent Mavhunga stormed out of the disciplinary proceedings in protest, leaving the panel to conduct the hearing in his absence.
Mr Mavhunga is accused of theft and fraud involving US$11 460 448.
He is also charged with acting inconsistently with the fulfilment of his contractual obligations, as well as gross incompetence or inefficiency in performing his duties.
The tribunal adjourned to determine its judgment in respect of Mr Mavhunga’s charges.
Mrs Pfumbidzayi was charged by the disciplinary tribunal after a forensic audit report by BCA Forensic Auditors concluded that senior managers at the airline had looted millions of dollars from the State enterprise.
The fingered executives are Mr Mavhunga, Mrs Pfumbidzayi, human resources manager Mr Oswaald Madziva, finance and administration manager Ms Patience Tichagwa, strategy and economics boss Mr Norbert Machingauta, and acting general manager Mr Nicholas Mujere.
Mrs Pfumbidzayi committed the offences while she was company secretary responsible for the insurance portfolio.
She was responsible for administration of the portfolio, involving drafting, and reviewing of contracts and other related documents.
It was also within the scope of her duties to undertake research and give appropriate legal opinion before contracts were signed or rejected.
The tribunal, basing on the audit report, found her guilty of authorising payments made to Navistar Insurance Brokers without ensuring that the amounts charged were as specified in the insurances contracts from the international insurance broker.
It was established that Mrs Pfumbidzayi played a pivotal role in facilitating that the airline pay inflated amounts to Navistar between 2009 and 2013, resulting in the airline losing 4 461 672 euros.
According to the report, Mrs Pfumbidzayi also appointed Navistar as Air Zimbabwe’s aviation insurance brokers on March 18, 2009 without following the required procedures prescribed by law and company policy.
In addition, Mrs Pfumbidzayi authorised payment of a fraudulent invoice valued at US$142 300 from Navistar, thereby prejudicing the already struggling airline.
Mrs Pfumbidzayi, according to the papers, was part of a fraudulent transaction that saw her authorising debit notes from Navistar amounting to US$1 062 370,52 for aviation insurance cover for two A320 Airbuses covering the period from November 2011 to April 3, 2012. But auditors found that the airbuses in question had not yet been bought and that they were only received in January and July 2012, respectively.
The forensic audit report also found that Mrs Pfumbidzayi failed to ensure the remittance of the annual hangar property damages premiums amounting to US$205 269,80 to Altfin Insurance.
In addition, she failed to insure the hangar property for the period stretching from April 1, 2010 to March 31 of the same year.
Mrs Pfumbidzayi was also found to be part of a fraudulent transaction in which 713 921,04 euors was released by the airline to pay insurance cover for three MA60 aircraft to Navistar when the planes were already covered Colemont Insurance Brokers’ debit notes.