3 Illegal forex dealers taste freedom

Source: 3 Illegal forex dealers taste freedom | Herald (Crime)

Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
Three suspected illegal foreign currency dealers arrested early this month in connection with financial sabotage were yesterday freed on bail ranging from $50 000 to $200 000 coupled with stiff conditions pending trial, after spending weeks in remand prison.

Chemmodities Trading Private Limited director Esau Bwerinofa, Takudzwa Rafemoyo and Access Finance boss Singathini Chigogwana—are among the several economic saboteurs arrested by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe crack team targeting illegal foreign currency dealers.

Their activities have been blamed for fueling the exchange rate leading to price increase of basic commodities. The three were denied bail at the Harare magistrates courts, prompting them to approach the High Court on appeal.

Justice Pisirayi Kwenda heard the appeals filed separately and reversed the remand court decisions finding merit in the appeals.
Bwerinofa who was being represented by Advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara was the first to be released on $200 000 bail coupled with tough conditions.

Adv Thembinkosi Magwaliba who acted for Chigogwana also successfully applied for bail before the same judge, who ruled that the crimes were committed one year eight months ago hence investigations should have been complete by now.

“In any event the police could have completed their investigations without arresting the appellant since the crimes were not recent,” said Justice Kwenda.

“Those witnesses who are described as employees and runners are actually alleged employees and runners of the first appellant which has not been subjected to any restrictions. It continues to operate one and half years after allegedly committing the offences.

“The licensing authority has not withdrawn the trading licence or otherwise shut the business. Confining the second appellant who is only one of its many employees will not achieve the intended purpose.”

Justice Kwenda said had the remand court properly considered the factors mentioned in Section 117 (4) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, it would have realised that it was not in the interests of justice to deny the suspects bail.

“The courts have always discouraged detention of suspects for the purpose of investigation in circumstances where it was possible to investigate before arresting.

In this case, said Justice Kwenda, Chigogwana was aware of the investigation for over a year. The court was required to consider the possible delay in bringing the accused to trial, said the judge.

Rafemoyo was ordered to pay $50 000.

However, each of the suspects was also required to surrender surety in the form of title deeds to one immovable property as well as their passports. They will be reporting once a week at the police and continue residing at their given addresses, as part of their bail conditions.

The three are facing criminal charges of illegally dealing in foreign currency exchange.

According to the State’s indictment, senior managers from various companies illegally dealt in foreign currency and caused the local dollar to fall against major currencies on the alternative market.

The remand court heard that the suspects operated in a “mafia-like modus operandi” involving “a complicated syndicate with other known companies that are under probe.”

Titanium Capital allegedly employed 429 money changers.

The State alleges that information at hand showed that Titanium Capital’s Tatenda Patrick Musonza is alleged to have dealt in $210 475 688.
Titanium traded with 429 money changers between January and June 2020 and the institution was allegedly still trading using the EcoCash bulk payer line.

Dream High Investments, represented by Tinashe Paradise Magada, is alleged to have transferred $143 669 348 while Access Finance (Private) Limited allegedly transacted $185 420 444.

Tererati (Private) Limited owned by Samuel Tererai Chiodze is alleged to have transacted $125 722 079 while Capital Profit Financial Services represented by Taitus Tapiwa Madzara, allegedly transacted $59 237 733.

Raymond Mudonhi Investment (Private) Limited, Justice Mahuni, Kudzai Mudonhi and Juso Global Limited Justice Mahuni allegedly illegally traded $150 128 765.

Dream High Investments, received $143 669 348 from different companies and individuals, which it then transferred using the EcoCash bulk payer line to agents who would buy forex on their behalf from the streets.

Access Finance, which is registered as a bureau de change, is alleged to have bought various Econet lines which it would give to various agents, who in turn used them to buy foreign currency on the streets.

It is alleged that its conduct was against the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe financial regulations.

Vision Credit Source Pvt Ltd was jointly charged with Rafemoyo for illegally buying foreign currency worth $192 million between January and June last year.

Rafemoyo allegedly opened a bank account for Vision Credit with Steward Bank before registering five separate EcoCash agent lines, which were then used as conduits to move the money to various buyers.

Between January 16 and May 7 the same year, he transferred $49 million into one of his agent lines before transferring another $49 million into the other lines “for the purpose of buying foreign currency on the black market”.

He went on to transfer amounts ranging between $2 million and $9 million into the other lines for the same reason. Several other suspects through their legal counsel are still battling to get bail at the High Court pending trial.