FORMER United States congressman Mel Reynolds, who had links with top government ministers in President Robert Mugabe’s government, was last Thursday convicted by a federal judge on misdemeanour charges that he failed to file income tax returns for four years despite earning hundreds of thousands of dollars of income, some of the money from Harare.
By STAFF REPORTER
Reynolds visited Zimbabwe in 2014 and was reportedly feted by government officials such as Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo and his Tourism counterpart, Walter Mzembi.
A Democrat from Chicago, who served in the House from 1993 to 1995, representing himself in court, said the money was paid to him for expenses and that he did not need to report to the Internal Revenue Service. This was after he did not file tax returns from 2009 to 2012 and could face up to a $1 million fine in addition to a prison term.
Assistant US Attorney Georgia Alexakis said Reynolds made $52 600 from Wilson and $371 000 from Chicago developer Elzie Higginbottom as he tried to arrange business deals for them involving medical supplies in Zimbabwe.
He dragged Mugabe’s name into his trial, claiming Higginbottom had paid the Zimbabwean leader $100 000 in bribe money to get business favours, an allegation which was denied.
Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba last week distanced his boss from Reynolds describing him as a disgraced convict whose evidence should not be taken seriously.
“I cannot dignify allegations made against the President by a convicted felon. You are asking me to put the President on trial by commenting on a matter that is sub judice. This matter is before the courts and, therefore, I will not be drawn into commenting,” Charamba said.
Reynolds’ short stay in Zimbabwe was marred by an arrest on allegations of possessing pornographic material.
However, the charge was thrown out by the courts, but the former US representative was convicted for staying in the country on an expired permit.