via Top RBZ officials up for $780,000 fraud – New Zimbabwe 25/06/2015
A RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) unit has dragged three senior executives and an accomplice to court accusing them of stealing US$780,000 from the company.
Fidelity Printers and Refiners is the RBZ’s currency printing firm and also the country’s sole buyer of gold.
The three top executives – Godknows Hofisi, 41, Tinashe Wellington Mbengegwi, 35, Ronald Madhara, 47, – were not asked to plead when they appeared before Harare magistrate Vakai Chikwekwe charged with fraud.
They were charged together with accomplice James Munemo, 34, who owns Swisspack Enterprises Private Limited. Munemo’s company is also the fifth accused in this case.
The State, led by prosecutor, Michael Reza opposed granting of bail to all four accused, saying they were a flight risk, having allegedly committed a serious crime which would likely attract a lengthy jail term.
“If convicted, they would each face a maximum prison term of 35 years. This is a prison term which one would be tempted to flee from,” said Reza.
“They (the accused) are also likely to interfere with witnesses if released on bail. This crime was not committed out of need but due to greed and such attracts a lengthy custodial sentence.”
Reza added: “The current charges are a just a tip of an iceberg. Further investigations are being carried out as we speak. The State believes a lot will come out of these investigations.”
According to the State, Hofisi is the chief operating officer and Finance Director at Fidelity Printers and Refiners in Msasa Harare, while Mbengegwi is the Finance manager and Madhara the Accountant – Gold operations.
Munemo is the director of Swisspack enterprises Pvt Ltd.
It is the State’s case that sometime in 2009, Munemo acquired a shelf company – Swisspack Pvt Ltd – which was in the business of buying and fitting electrical gadgets, operating from Harare’s Tafara high density suburb.
Munemo, together with wife Eda Munemo, 35, were the directors.
The company operated two bank accounts in the name of Swisspack Enterprises and trading as Native Gold Printers. The accounts are still active.
Fidelity Printers and Refiners also has an account with Stanbic Msasa branch and the three accused executives are authorised signatories to the account.
It is alleged that during the period extending from October 10, 2013 to September 2014, Munemo’s account was credited with a total of $579,047 from the Fidelity Pinters Stanbic account on the instructions of the three accused executives.
Prosecutors say, on December 18 last year, Munemo’s account was again credited with a total of $201,518 from Fidelity Printers’ Stanbic account on the instructions of Hofisi, Mbengegwi and Madhara.
Payments totalling $780,565 were purportedly for gold deliveries when, in actual fact, no such deliveries were made to Fidelity Printers.
According to the State, there were no supporting documents for the said gold deliveries.
Prosecutors say Munemo would withdraw cash from the account each time a deposit was made.
However, on June 4 this year, an internal auditor visited Fidelity Printers and unearthed the fraud, resulting in a police report being made on June 12.
Fidelity Printers suffered an actual prejudice of $780,565. 74 and nothing was recovered.
The matter was remanded to Friday for bail ruling.
The first three accused were represented by Advocate Fredrick Gijima while Munemo was represented by Gift Nyandoro.