BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
Three Zimbabwe Revenue Authority employees have been arrested for defrauding their employer of $50 million in a Value Added Tax (VAT) refunds scheme.
Valentine Chireke (35), Tawonga Nhenga (33) and Leonard Mazanhi (34) yesterday appeared before magistrate Stanford Mambanje who remanded them to today for bail ruling.
Allegations are that, sometime in August last year, Zimra through its Commissioner of Customs resolved to waive physical inspection to its clients claiming VAT refund. Previously, Zimra would visit clients before processing the claim.
The three accused persons acting in connivance with Batanai Zengeni, who is still at large, hatched a plan to defraud Zimra.
It is alleged Chireke identified companies that are dormant in the Zimra system namely Katumi Investment, Nutroil Pvt Ltd, May Computers and Hefa Electrical and gave details to Nhengo and Mazanhi who then generated Zimra e-services pin for each of the four companies so that they could interact with the Zimra online.
Accused persons allegedly submitted VAT returns online to enable claiming of refunds.
The State alleges that between August 5, 2020 and October 28, 2020, the accused also fraudulently opened corporate bank accounts at BancABC for the four companies where pre-account interviews were held by phone and know your customers documentation was sent to accused through emails.
Thereafter, the accused allegedly fraudulently tendered documents to Zimra purporting that they had changed the banking details and submitted VAT refund claims to Zimra well knowing that the claims were false.
Acting on the misrepresentation, Zimra paid VAT refund amounting $49 399 736 to the companies.
It is alleged between November 27, 2020 and March this year, the accused transferred the money from the bank accounts of the four companies into various bank accounts in a bid to launder the proceeds of the crime.
The offence came to light on March 10 when Zimra internal audit identified high volume of cash on VAT refunds that had been paid to dormant companies.
It is alleged Chireke was arrested and two mobile phones used to withdraw the money were recovered, leading to the arrest of the accused persons.
Malvern Mapako appeared for the State.