Saturday, 5 December 2020

SIX $5 BILLION MONEY LAUNDERING SUSPECTS FREED

THE High Court has freed the six people accused of using their business to facilitate illegal foreign currency transactions involving $5 billion.

 In the bail appeal ruling delivered by High Court judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi yesterday, the companies Bailey Charamba Investments and Family First Choice Supermarket were excluded from the bail proceedings.

He granted Simbarashe Charamba $50 000 bail and Felix Chikuse, Vimbai Charamba, Rudo Charamba, Shumirai Charamba and Gideon Kabanda were ordered to deposit $30 000 each.

They have all been ordered to continue residing at their given addresses and report twice a week at the nearest police stations. Chitapi said the magistrates’ court should have considered that money laundering and contravening the Excise Control Act had a non-custodial penalty provision.

He said the State had failed to proffer cogent reasons why the suspects should be denied bail. “The learned regional magistrate accepted that the first charge of dealing in foreign currency was a finable offence in the first instance.

The same applies to the money laundering charge in that a fine is provided for in the first instance. “As a general rule the fact that an offence has a provision for a fine as opposed to mandatory imprisonment may act as a disincentive to the applicant who applies for bail to want to abscond,” Chitapi said.

Prosecutor Michael Reza alleged that between January 1 and June 30 this year, Simbarashe Charamba — acting in connivance with his co-accused — manipulated a mobile money platform by registering a bulk payer agent line and a number of agent lines which he used to facilitate the purchase of foreign currency from the public.

Employees at Family First Choice Supermarket allegedly conducted forex transactions from the supermarket offices on the specific direction of Charamba — buying foreign currency from the parallel market.

In pursuing their alleged arrangement, the State alleges that they transacted a total of $4 979 643 231.81 through the bulk agent line and redistributed this to 40 different Bailey Charamba Investments agent lines in order to disguise the illicit origins of the money.

Chikuse and Kabanda, as the directors of Bailey Charamba Investments, allegedly received commission from Charamba monthly as the registered owners of the 40 agent lines used in facilitating the transactions.

The State alleges that their actions were in violation of the Exchange Control Act as read with the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act. Daily News


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