The trial of a Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) accountant accused of fraudulently transferring VAT refunds for different clients into his wife’s bank account, swindling ZIMRA of over $1,2 million, started yesterday.Tapuwa Chidemo (44) and his wife Tsitsi Kanyasa (42) pleaded not guilty to nine counts of fraud and money laundering charges.
They appeared before Harare magistrate Mr Noel Mupeiwa. The court heard that Kanyasa works at the Harare Institute of Technology and is a holder of a CABS account number 9027933337.
Through their lawyer, Mr Admire Rubaya, Chidemo challenged the State to prove that he was the person behind the computer fraudulently editing data of ZIMRA clients.
“The accused never edited bank details of ZIMRA clients. State should prove that the accused was the sole user of ZIMRA’s Paynet system. Accused has no relations with Armeline Enterprises, a company he is accused of owning.”
The complainant is ZIMRA, represented by its regional accountant, Mr Shadreck Pfende.
The court heard that Chidemo was responsible for importing files from the VAT refund section and initiating payment, using the Paynet system.
Chidemo was solely responsible for approving the refunds and authorising the payment to the banks of ZIMRA clients as well as establishing rejections of electro-transferred funds and completing the manual transfer advice.
Prosecutor Ms Constance Ngombengombe alleged that Chidemo approached Alfred Makaya requesting a corporate account to use in depositing money from clients. Makaya gave Chidemo a Kingdom Bank account for Release Consultancy Enterprises.
It is alleged between June 9, 2010 and February 11, 2012 Chidemo – who had sole access to ZIMRA’s Paynet system – posted various amounts of money totalling $90 110, 90 from ZIMRA’s CBZ account to Release Consultancy.
It is alleged that Chidemo transferred $45 882, 60 to his wife’s account. In April 2011, it is alleged Chidemo changed the accounts of legitimate ZIMRA client Cuban Embassy and in its place posted the name to the late Bruce Masora.
He transferred to Masora $26 765,90 and another $150 368,14 on a different date.
The court heard that in July 2011, Chidemo created his own company, Armeline Enterprises, and transferred $69 211,84 to the company’s Standard Chartered Bank.
It is alleged Chidemo changed the account numbers of legitimate ZIMRA clients who included St Anne’s Hospital, Kenyan Embassy, Embassy of Pakistan, ZBC, Unicef, National Tyre Services and UNDP, among others.
After receiving refund schedules for the above ZIMRA clients, Chidemo allegedly prepared a fraudulent refund schedule bearing his wife’s account number and other bank accounts.
He then transferred the money into the bank accounts, it is alleged. ZIMRA lost $1 215 623 and nothing was recovered. Herald