The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) has allegedly been defrauded of $3 635 927 by two consultants in a well-orchestrated scam.
Carlos Elijah (32) and Phillip Jaricha (27) allegedly acted in connivance and manipulated the ZETDC computer system from the national computer server and reduced amounts on bills in the computer system to zeros using a non-financial programme.
The two appeared in court Monday.
The state alleges Elijah and Jaricha were employed by a Spanish Consultancy Company known as Soluziona (Indra) based in Kenya, contracted by ZETDC to install a computer system in Zimbabwe for purposes of electricity distribution, billing and financial control.
Sometime in 2001, Soluziona commenced the computer programme system installation with personnel deployed among the Zesa employees.
The state alleges Elijah and Jaricha manipulated a system from Zesa’s national computer server known as Harare BATCH commonly used to sort out programme errors.
The two allegedly activated the error programme system to deal with the financial programme of receipting money without the knowledge of Zesa information technology section, the state alleges.
Using the Harare BATCH programme Elijah and Jaricha allegedly entered false amounts in the computer systems by crediting the previous months of customer’s accounts to avoid detection by the audit department.
The state alleges the credited amounts were purported payments for electricity used while Elijah and Jaricha would have obtained money from customers for their benefit.
The offence came to light when a customer informed Zesa loss control and a confession by one customer led to several cases being uncovered, leading to the arrest of the duo.
Provincial magistrate, Munamato Mutevedzi, granted the two $500 bail each and ordered them to report twice every day to Commercial Crimes Unit and to restrict all travel to within a 50km radius of Harare.
The magistrate had been reluctant to grant bail questioning the state’s decision not to oppose bail in a case involving the embezzlement of such a huge amount of public funds.
“The court wants to know why bail is not opposed in this matter that involves abuse of large sums of public funds.
“It is known that Zesa is having problems of supplying consumers with electricity because of heavy debts coming from such activities.
“Accused persons work for a foreign company and after fleecing such large sums of money, they can be tempted to abscond,” Mutevedzi said.
Prosecutor Arnold Sandalamu outlined the stringent bail conditions while Fred Machokoto represented Elijah and Jaricha, who were not asked to plead.