Fidelis Munyoro-Chief Court Reporter
The US$2 million paid to Drax Consult SAGL for the supply of medicines and medical sundries to the National Pharmaceutical Company (Natpharm) remains frozen in the former’s bank account in Hungary amid indications International Police Organisation (Interpol) Harare could have misinformed their counterparts in Budapest on the deal involving Drax and the Government.
The money is locked in Drax’s MagNet Bank account in Budapest, after Interpol reportedly passed on information on investigations into the transaction between Drax and Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health for medical supplies to the Government-owned, Natpharm.
This was after some banks involved in the system moved to stop suspected money laundering and raised a red-flag, leading to the freezing of the funds.
This prompted Drax, through its lawyer Mr Admire Rubaya, to write to Interpol Budapest explaining the deal and putting the record straight. The lawyer implored Interpol to engage State institutions to ascertain the facts around the Drax/Natpharm transaction.
He requested Interpol Hungary to engage the Attorney-General’s office, the Commissioner-General of Police, the National Prosecuting Authority and the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet to gather the relevant information on the deal.
Mr Rubaya said Drax was suspicious of any information that Interpol Hungary could have received from some elements in the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
To date, the company had not had an opportunity to respond to issues relating to its business with the Government which resulted in Interpol moving in to investigate the deal and the subsequent withholding of the company’s US$2m by Hungarian authorities.
Drax thought the reply might have mentioned the arrest of Delish Nguwaya, who is the Zimbabwean country representative of Drax.
Nguwaya was arrested in June 2020 and appeared before the courts charged with fraud. However, these allegations have since been dismissed by the courts.
“It is our client’s considered view that your counterparts at Interpol Harare ought to have categorically stated that these are not illicit funds and you had no reason to hold on to the funds but to release same to the appointed Drax representative,” said Mr Rubaya.
“The fact that Interpol Harare has somehow prevaricated on availing what exactly it communicated to you might mean that it gave a negative report concerning the funds.
“If indeed there has been a negative report concerning the funds from Interpol Harare, our client challenges that and seeks to be given the opportunity to set the record straight.
“As it stands, you may consider what we have already articulated and you may request for the professional legal opinion concerning those funds and the agreement from the Attorney General of Zimbabwe and the Prosecutor General of Zimbabwe.
“These legal opinions will enable you to appreciate if the funds are illicit or not,” wrote Mr Rubaya. “It is only fair and just that the funds be released to Drax without further ado.” The lawyer also noted that Interpol was a network for the national police services to assist each other but the Interpol network facility was at times misused for either political or selfish ends by those occupying certain positions within the law enforcement agencies to the detriment of the innocent persons.
“Drax is well aware of the fact that Interpol is not a judicial body and neither is it duty bound to assess evidence at national level,” he said.
“However, it is pertinent for Interpol to be adequately informed on the issues at hand to avoid being scandalised by politically motivated miscommunication and misinformation antics designed to portray Drax and probably the current Government of Zimbabwe led by His Excellency Cde Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa in bad light. This maintains Interpol’s own credibility and effectiveness.”