via Fidelity executives hit with 11 more money laundering charges – NewsDay Zimbabwe September 11, 2015 by Paidamoyo Muzulu
THE trial of Fidelity Printers and Refiners executives facing $2,6 million fraud and money-laundering charges almost stalled yesterday when the defence lawyers objected to the State’s decision to lay 11 additional counts of money-laundering after they had already given their defence outline.
Fidelity Printers and Refiners chief operating officer Godknows Hofisi is being jointly charged with Tinashe Mumbengegwi (finance manager), Terrence Tererai (company secretary), Ronald Madhara (accountant) and Allen Marimbe.
Prosecutor Michael Reza asked the court to lay the additional 11 charges of money-laundering after the defence had already read its outlines.
All the accused deny the 22 counts levelled against them by the State.
“I realised my mistake that I had not put all the charges to the accused and I have advised my colleagues that I am going to continue with putting the 11 counts in respect of money-laundering,” Reza said.
However, this did not go down well with the defence lawyers led by Admire Rubaya, who argued that the State was acting in breach of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act by preferring other charges after the accused had tendered their defence outlines.
“We are perplexed by the procedures of the State. This is not a village court and they should not be allowed to play hide-and-seek. I believe there is no reverse gear and the trial should proceed with the fraud charges only,” Rubaya said.
However, magistrate Noel Mupeiwa allowed the charges to be laid as there was no prejudice to the accused.
“In my view, it fits with the principles of justice and fairness that should be applied. That was a technical omission and that can be excused,” Mupeiwa ruled.
He added: “The bottom line is that it will not be fair to the State because someone omitted the charges. I grant the application to amend the charges.”
Reza then went on to formally lay the 11 money-laundering charges to which all the accused pleaded not guilty.
The accused then reread their amended defence outlines.
All the 22 counts have similar facts where the executives are accused of misrepresenting that they were buying gold from Swisspack and making wire transfers for the gold, but nothing was delivered.
They are accused of withdrawing the money and sharing the proceeds.
The trial continues today.