Finance ministry employees’ $700 000 fraud trial stalls

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The trial of eight workers at the Ministry of Finance accused of swindling government of over $700 000, failed to kick off at the High Court yesterday due to the unavailability of lawyers representing five of the suspects.

BY CHARLES LAITON

The matter was eventually rolled over to tomorrow by chief law officer Chris Mutangadura after advising the State witnesses of the development.

The suspects will appear before High Court judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu for trial in a matter involving defrauding the government of $412 095 and on July 13 this year they will again appear before a different judge to face other fraud charges.

Allegations against the government employees are that sometime in December last year they manufactured fake invoices which they then submitted to the Accountant-General’s Office for payment.

According to the State, the employees submitted names of non-existent firms in the name of Nico Orgo (Pvt) Limited and Pioneer Hibred (Pvt) Limited through which they allegedly later sought payment for non-existent jobs.

However, the alleged offence came to light on January 15 this year when the Ministry of Agriculture, which had requested the Ministry of Finance to release funds to Reapers (Pvt) Limited, Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company and Windmill (Pvt) Limited, was informed there was an insufficient balance to meet the payments.

Investigations by police led to the arrest of the government employees together with other non-government employees.