BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
INTEREST Research Bureau of Zimbabwe (IRBZ) represented by Moses Jani yesterday appeared at the Harare Magistrates Court facing charges of attempting to defraud the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration of US$14 million.
Jani, who was remanded out on free bail to August 4 pending the finalisation of investigations, appeared before magistrate Learnmore Mapiye.
The IRBZ is a private company registered under the Companies Act of Zimbabwe and specialises in re-calculation of interest on both overdrawn and credit bank accounts.
It is alleged that in March 2019, government through the Finance ministry entered into a contract with lRBZ for interest recalculation and recovery of overcharged accounts.
An addendum for the same contract was affected on June 24, 2020.
The State alleged that on the March 28, 2019, Zinara received a letter from the Finance ministry introducing the IRBZ global contract to State entities.
The letter recommended that they work with IRBZ to review potential interest overcharges.
In line with the recommendation, Zinara entered into an interest re-calculation contract with IRBZ on February 10, 2020 focussing on the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) loan and other Zinara bank accounts.
On September 10, 2021, Zinara formally introduced IRBZ to DBSA requesting access to its loan book information to calculate interest.
Under paragraph 4.1 of a contract signed between IRBZ and Zinara, services rendered on behalf of the road authority were to be free of charge. A commission of 12,5% of the overcharged interest effectively recovered by the bureau shall be payable to IRBZ.
On February 14, 2022, IRBZ submitted a tax invoice with a claim of US$594 032.09, being 12,5% of US$4 752 236,72 which they misrepresented as amount recovered from DBSA yet no overcharged interest was recovered.
On February 15, 2022, IRBZ made a further misrepresentation by submitting another tax invoice with a claim of US$14 477 357.24 calculated as 12.5% of US$115 818 858,30, an amount they purported to have recovered from DBSA.
It is alleged on March 16, upon realising that Zinara was requesting for proof of the interest, IRBZ withdrew its invoices.
Investigations established that no amount was credited and retained into Zinara DBSA loan account.
Investigations further established that IRBZ acted contrary to its contract by fraudulently raising two fictitious invoices and claiming 12,5% commission.