Indian dealer nabbed over diamonds scam

via Indian dealer nabbed over diamonds scam – DailyNews Live by Bernard Chiketo  27 MARCH 2014

A Mutare businessman of Indian origin was yesterday charged with conniving with employees of top diamond producing firm, Mbada Diamonds to steal $3 million worth of gems from the Marange-based firm.

Mudasar Khan, who owns Akin Investments, a diamond cutting and polishing company and is a director of Kassim Wholesalers, was not asked to plead to the charge when he appeared before Mutare magistrate Sekesayi Chindura.

The gems had been stolen from Mbada Diamonds (Private) Limited,  a joint venture between government, through the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC), and the New Reclamation Group of South Africa, headquartered in Harare and has a staff compliment of about 1 500.

Khan was granted $3 000 bail, ordered to report to the police daily,  surrender his Indian passport, his title deeds and not to leave his place of residence.

The State alleges that Khan, who was arrested on Tuesday, unlawfully dealt in precious stones prohibited under Section 3(1)(a) of the Precious Stones Trade Act, Chapter 21:06.

He faces 12 counts of theft as defined in Section 113(1)(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 9:23.

The charge sheet estimates that Khan’s criminal activities may have prejudiced Mbada Diamonds of $3 million.

Mbada Diamonds chairperson Robert Mhlanga has told Parliament recently that the company realised over $1 billion in diamond revenues since it began operations at Chiadzwa with part of the cash paid into the national treasury. Mbada also advanced money to government.

The State alleges that Khan bought gems from Mbada Diamonds employees who smuggled them out of the mining fields in Chiadzwa in exchange for vehicles.

He allegedly used three runners under his Indian dealer nabbed over $3m gems employ identified as Charles Chave, Albie Marima and Charles Gonzo.

The Mbada employees implicated in the scam include Simbarashe Gondo, a sorter who allegedly received a Toyota Hilux; Hardlife Kuudzehwe, a dozer operator who allegedly received a Honda Fit; Temba Mvalo, another dozer operator who got a Mercedes Benz; Talkmore Chigeza, a sorter who got a Mercedes Benz and Honda Fit; Innocent Tsindi a power screen operator who got a Nissan March and Alexander Daru, another sorter who received a Toyota Hiace.

The vehicles have since been recovered. They are valued at between $5 500 and $30 000.

Khan is also alleged to have recruited a buyer Tapfumaneyi Karingamupembe, from whom he is accused of seizing a Toyota Chaser valued at $6 000 for causing him a loss of $3 000.

Khan was not asked to plead. He was appearing for initial remand with the trial expected to commence on April 10.

Defence lawyer Tafadzwa Charles Hungwe of  Venturas and Samkange law firm successfully bid for bail pending trial.

But his bid was opposed by the State on the grounds that he would interfere with the six State witnesses whom Hungwe referred to as “suspect witnesses” as they are alleged to have taken part in the illegal activities as well as hiding evidence.

In her bail ruling, Magistrate Chiundura consented to bail after throwing out State claims that Khan must be held in custody while investigations were underway.

The magistrate said the State could not arrest to investigate. She ruled out claims that Khan was a flight risk as he handed himself over to the police.

Lead investigator in the case, Chief Superintendent Alison Nyamupaguma confirmed the accused had handed himself over to the police.

Public prosecutor Malvern Musarurwa opposed bail.