Marondera leather firm hires private auditors, discovers that US$1, 2 million externalised through RBZ

Source: Marondera leather firm hires private auditors, discovers that US$1, 2 million externalised through RBZ -Newsday Zimbabwe

A Marondera-based leather company Eagle Italian Leather and Shoes Company recently hired Royal Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe auditors who discovered that US$1, 214 608, 49 was externalised by its former director Li Song after she manufactured supporting documents of suppliers to acquire forex at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s auction system . The company, through its director Francesco , is piling pressure to the Zimbabwean authorities to have Li brought to book for alleged money-laundering involving millions of United States dollars. The auditors also discovered the secret offshore companies bank accounts that regularly received millions of United States dollars from Li through RBZ. According to the audit report, Jacaranda Consulting Services which is registered in Mauritius received part of the money from the RBZ. Recent investigations revealed that the company was registered by Li as sole director.

Another offshore company, Skyone Import and Export Company also received part of the money. However, the auditors could not establish where it is registered. Royal Chartered Accountants Zimbabwe managing partner Nathan Chayambuka, in his report, said the purpose of the audit was to establish whether all funds sourced from the foreign currency auction system were applied for the intended purpose, and whether goods and services were actually received for all payments made.”We agreed to carry out an audit on the company’s application of foreign currency sourced from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe foreign currency auction system as well as the company’s own foreign currency free funds.”The purpose of the audit was to establish whether all funds sourced from the foreign currency auction system were applied for the intended purpose, and whether goods and services were actually received for all payments made,” Chayambuka said.

According to Chayambuka, during the period under audit, the company operated two bank accounts – local and foreign currency with each of its bankers, Ecobank Limited and First Capital Bank Limited. The signing arrangement for each of the bank accounts was that any signatory would sign. The auditors said one of the bank signatories who also happened to be Li who was a director during that time.

She allegedly took advantage of the opportunity and started signing out payments to Jacaranda Consulting Services and Skyone Import and Export Company, which are both foreign companies.”Total funds amounting to US$809,407.83 were paid to these foreign companies during the period 1 June 2020 to 30 September 2021.”The audit has also revealed that there were outstanding acquittals amounting to US$ 405,200.66 from the company’s free funds for payments processed through First Capital Bank Limited during the three years ending 31 December 2016.”There are no bill of entries and commercial invoices to support that goods and services were eventually delivered to Eagle Itatian Shoes (Private) Limited for all the payments. Failure to submit bill of entries by the company to its two banks has resulted in its accounts being suspended,” read the report.

According to the RBZ Exchange Control Regulations , companies that make advance payments to foreign companies for goods have 90 days to submit proof of receipt of the goods by way of bill of entries and commercial invoices to the bank through which they would have made those payments.

Failure to submit bill of entries and other related documents such as commercial invoices may mean that the company would have externalised funds a situation which may result in penalties to the company or its bank accounts suspended.”After performing procedures…we discovered that during the period under audit, the company could not provide supporting documents to confirm receipts of goods for US$809,407.83 which it secured from the RBZ Foreign Currency Auction system and neither could it account for US$405, 200.66 worth of advance payments made out of its free funds.” In total, the company may have externalised a total of US$1,214,608.49. All these payments were initiated by Mrs. Li Song alone,” read the auditors report.The State also alleges that sometime in August 2021, Li hatched a plan to steal from the company and generated a proforma invoice number ZIMBP2119 dated August 20, 2021.

The invoice was purportedly raised by Curechem Holdings Limited domiciled at number 201/2A, 2™️ Floor, 1 Cybercity, Ebene, Mauritius and was quoting 60 tonnes of hydrate lime at a price of US$13 800.00 and 60 tonnes sodium cyanide for US$144 000 for Strengthened Investments Private Limited. lt is alleged that Li raised the proforma invoice well knowing that Curechem Holdings Limited had not prepared such a document.Armed with the alleged fake invoice, Li approached Ecobank Zimbabwe’s Borrowdale branch, Harare, and applied for foreign currency through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s foreign currency exchange auction system. By means of this alleged misrepresentation and on September 6, 2021, Li allegedly made a transfer of ZWL6 538 625 from Marconati’s Ecobank local currency account number 5712000009793 for the purchase of foreign currency at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

On March 28, 2022, Marconati’s foreign currency account number 5783600044545 was credited with US$157 275.15 being funds availed from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’. On April 12 and 13,2022, accused allegedly transferred US$78 266.06 and US$77 461.65 into Curechem Holdings Limited’s bank account in Mauritius. Despite all the illegal transactions, Li has not yet been arrested amid allegations that she enjoys protection from politicians and security agents since Italian Leather supplies leather shoes to the country’s security forces.

For the company to be able to carry out its business, it relies on raw materials which it imports from other countries such as China, Italy, South Africa among others.

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