Saturday, 16 July 2022

GOVT SEEKS TO GRAB EX ZINARA BOSS US$20M ASSETS

The State is seeking to take over a 40 percent block of shares in one of the leading insurance companies, Champions Insurance, and a range of houses and vehicles all worth about US$20 million from former Zinara chief executive Frank Chitukutuku, who allegedly paid for the assets with cash siphoned from the road fund.

Two judges have been assigned to jointly preside over the high profile graft case.

Chitukutuku is accused of swindling Zimbabwe National Roads Administration of over US$3 million during his tenure as chief executive officer.

He faces charges of criminal abuse of office, fraud, bribery and money laundering.

But under the law, the State can also proceed through a civil route to strip someone of assets acquired with tainted money, and this requires a lower standard of proof, just the balance of probabilities, rather than proof beyond reasonable doubt.

The targeted assets are owned by Chitukutuku and his wife Nyasha.

It is believed Chitukutuku used proceeds from corruption at Zinara to become a 40 percent shareholder in Champions Insurance and bought several other movable and immovable properties.

The shares, according to the State, become tainted and they should be forfeited.

Due to the complexity and the importance attached to the high profile case, two judges have been assigned to deal with the matter.

Under normal circumstances, one judge presides over their own case at the High Court, but matters of importance may attract two or more judicial officers.

Justice Benjamin Chikowero and Justice Pisirayi Kwenda will jointly preside over the case in September this year.

Initially, the case had been set for July 12, but Justice Chikowero deferred the matter, saying his colleague Justice Kwenda had other commitments.

Among the assets targeted by the State are Chitukutuku’s shares in Champions Insurance.

The State is also targeting a range of property and vehicles.

Thproperty is listed as: Lot 1 of Lot 3 of Lot 56a Borrowdale Estate Harare, Lot 3 of Glen Lorne ,Harare, remainder of Lot 1 of Lot E of Colne Valley of Reiffonteinn, Harare, measuring 4 552 square metres, and subdivision A of Sentosa of Mabelreign Harare measuring 9 536 square metres.

The vehicles are listed as: Mazda T35 ACN2758, Mazda T35 ACN0695, Hino Dutro ABI2738, Toyota Land Cruiser ADF8240, Toyota Prado ACP9977, Nissan NP200 ACN0713, Range Rover ACM2555, Hino Ranger ACU6845, Land Rover Discovery ADA7621, five tractors, 10 Tonne UD truck.

Other assets besides the 40 percent shareholding in Champions are: four water tanks, a farm house, and Farmpride Pvt Ltd of 49 Kent Road Chisipite.

In the application for forfeiture filed recently, the National Prosecuting Authority said investigations by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) showed that a company called Hotspike (Pvt) Ltd, owned by Chitukutuku and his wife, had 40 percent shareholding in Champions Insurance.

Two other shareholders own the other 60 percent with Fremus Business Consultants owned by Mr Freddy Chimbari and his wife Masceline Chimbari holding 40 percent.

The State argues that Chitukutuku purchased the Champions Insurance shares, but does not explain how he met the Insurance’s recapitalisation requirements.

From 2009 to 2019, Champions Insurance’s capital position rose from US$107 000 to US$17 238 000.

“This is clear case of money laundering and ultimately (Chitukutuku) did violate the tax laws of this country by failure to show any tax returns for company tax and his individual dividends.

“He has not also shown payment of capital gains tax for the house he alleges to have sold which we vigorously contest in casu. The source of the capital is criminal and evidence of initial capital remains unexplained,” reads part of the papers filed by the State.

Chitukutuku in 2019 appeared at the Harare Magistrates’ Court facing six counts of criminal abuse of office after allegedly awarding road rehabilitation contracts worth millions of dollars to a “colleague” without following legal processes.

Allegations against him are that between January 2009 and May 31 2016, he influenced awarding of contracts worth US$20 million for rehabilitation of roads in Zaka, Buhera, Mhondoro-Ngezi, Murewa and Goromonzi to Fremus Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd without following procurement procedures.

According to this earlier criminal case outline presented in court, Chitukutuku had the power over disbursement of road rehabilitation funds.

“The accused, in connivance with former Zinara technical director Moses Julius Juma, corruptly imposed the awarding of contracts for rehabilitation of road works for rural districts councils without following procurement procedures,” read the court papers in part.

“The accused acted contrary to his duties as a public officer for the purpose of showing favour to Fremus Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd, a company owned by his ZAOGA church associate,” reads the court papers.

It is further alleged that Chitukutuku and Moses Juma would threaten to withdraw road rehabilitation funds to rural district councils that sought to award road contracts to other contractors ahead of Fremus Enterprises.

According to the court papers, Fremus director Chimbari bought a US$30 000 residential stand in Glen Lorne for Chitukutuku.

Chimbari is also said to have, on different dates, deposited a total US$114 000 in Chitukutuku’s CBZ account. Herald

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