Friday, 12 June 2020

EX ECONET EMPLOYEE CHARGED WITH MONEY LAUNDERING


AN ex-Econet Wireless employee is facing theft and money laundering charges after conniving with a former Bulawayo police officer and his wife to allegedly defraud a local haulage truck company of $500 000.

The three later used the money to buy more than US$20 000 from the black market and shared the loot.

Peter Grassmore Mare of Bulawayo’s Parklands suburb who was formerly employed by Cassava Smartech allegedly ganged up with Fredrick Topia (40), a former police officer and his wife, Nyarai Magaya (32) both of Sauerstown to defraud Borgrov Trading of $500 000 in October last year.

The trio allegedly used an EcoCash agent line they had hired out to Borgrov Trading to transfer $500 000 from the company account using EcoCash. They then blocked the line before reopening it and transferring the money into a different account.

They allegedly used the money to buy US$20 210 from the black market. This emerged when Mare approached the High Court seeking bail pending trial. He was on the run soon after the discovery of the offence and was arrested three months ago.

Topia and Magaya are out of custody on $3 000 bail each.

Mare, through his lawyer Mr Vuyo Mpofu of VJ Mpofu and Associates, filed the application for bail pending trial at the Bulawayo High Court citing the State as a respondent.

In his bail statement, Mare argued that the State failed to proffer compelling reasons warranting his continued detention.

He disputed the State’s assertion that he was likely to abscond if released on bail saying there was no basis to support it.

Mare offered to report once a week at Bulawayo Central Police Station and continue residing at his given address as part of the bail conditions.

The State, which was represented by Mr Bruce Maphosa opposed bail, arguing that Mare was a flight risk.

Mr Maphosa said the State has a strong prima facie case against Mare and as such he was likely to abscond if released on bail.

He said Mare had been on the run since the matter was reported to the police on November 30 last year until his arrest on March 26 this year. 

Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Christopher Dube-Banda dismissed Mare’s application, saying he is not a good candidate for bail. He concurred with the State that there was a likelihood of absconding trial if released on bail given the circumstances under which he was arrested.

“This court is of the view that releasing the applicant on bail would offend the rule of law and make a mockery of the criminal justice system. He is a flight risk having evaded arrest for a long time and now, he is evasive and not candid with his residential address hence releasing him on bail at this stage will be as good as giving him a permit to abscond and not stand trial,” said Justice Dube-Banda.

He said there were compelling reasons warranting Mare’s continued detention pending trial.

“The State argues that the applicant deserves deferential treatment from his co-accused who have been admitted to bail. I agree and I am satisfied that there are, indeed compelling reasons to decline to admit the applicant to bail and accordingly, the application is dismissed,” ruled Justice Dube-Banda.

According to court papers, it was stated that some time last year, Topia and Magaya registered a company, Fredloui (Pvt) Limited, for which they are co-directors and acquired an EcoCash agent line registered under the name Fredloui Investments (Pvt) Ltd.

In October 2019, the couple allegedly enlisted the services of Mare to look for a person who would use the agent line.

Mare went on to hire out the line to Mr Moses Matsveru who is the director of Borgrov Trading, although it was registered in the couple’s company name.

On November 29, 2019, Mr Matsveru received a payment of $500 000 into his bank account. He then instructed his bank to transfer the money to the EcoCash agent line.

On the same date, Mare acting in connivance with Topia and Magaya blocked and replaced the EcoCash agent line, thus effectively denying Matsveru access to his money.

They transferred the money from the agent line in question to two different EcoCash agent lines and went on to convert the $500 000 to US$20 210, which they later allegedly shared.

Upon discovering the scam, Mr Matsveru reported the matter to the police leading to the arrest of Mare and his accomplices. Chronicle

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