Friday, 7 February 2020

FOREX BLACK MARKET : BUSINESSMAN ARRESTED

A LOCAL businessman, accused of fuelling the forex black market, has been arrested for alleged money laundering and externalisation of over US$1,3 million.

Ismail Moosa Lunat (57) of Kumalo suburb was arrested by officials from the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) on Thursday.

He appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Mr Tinashe Tashaya facing money laundering charges and was remanded in custody to Monday for bail hearing.

Lunat is no stranger to the courts as he has pending cases that include fraud for allegedly selling one property worth US$1,3 million to two different individuals.

Prosecuting, Mr George Rufumoyo said Lunat is facing criminal charges for offences dating back to 2018.

It is alleged that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe at some point in December 2018 raised a red flag over Lunat’s use of his company bank account to engage in illicit transactions.

The State alleges that Lunat is one of the businesspeople who have been under scrutiny by the central bank for fuelling the foreign currency black market, a move which has contributed to the spiralling of rates on the parallel market. “On December 5, 2018, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe raised an alarm to the effect that the accused person used his company, Rollright Consultancy NMB account number 00002101194387 to peddle in illicit financial flows through illegally engaging in trade or exchange of money. 

“This resulted in thousands of United states dollars being externalised outside Zimbabwe while various amounts were channelled into the black market in Zimbabwe,” said the prosecutor.

Mr Rufumoyo further alleges that at the time when the offence was committed, Lunat and his accomplices (names not provided in court) received US$1 349 495.24 through his company and he transferred the money into several individuals and companies’ bank accounts.

Lunat through his legal representative Mr Nqobani Sithole of Ncube Attorneys accused Zacc and the State of confusion and overzealousness in the matter, saying they failed to do proper investigations as the matter was already under investigation by the ZRP Commercial Crimes Division.

“You are overzealous, you started to investigate the case in the beginning of February and you are saying you have overwhelming evidence. This means you have a shallow understanding of the case because the CID Commercial Crimes Division is working on the matter and you took it over from them without a clear understanding of the case,” said the lawyer. 

Mr Sithole said despite the fact that Lunat is facing a serious offence, he deserves to be granted bail as he never fled. “He never escaped any jurisdiction for the previous cases he faced. He does not have any travel documents which means he cannot abscond court orders,” he said. 

The lawyer said Lunat is diabetic and he had gone for two days without taking his medication and had not eaten anything since his day of arrest, as he was Muslim and could only eat particular foods.  For the State, Mr Rufumoyo said Lunat could not be granted bail since he allegedly committed other crimes whilst on bail for other pending cases. “If granted bail the accused person might tamper with the evidence like bank statements. Bearing in mind that the offence was committed electronically, he can tamper with the evidence and hinder our investigation,” said Mr Rufumoyo. Chronicle

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