THE Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) yesterday said it was closing in on a top Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) official implicated in a bribery storm after he allegedly demanded a bribe from a whistleblower who had exposed improper financial dealings at NetOne.
BY Everson Mushava
Zacc commissioner in charge of investigations Goodson Nguni confirmed the development yesterday.
“We are seized with the matter; our team is on the ground investigating the case in which the Zimra official, Charles Jaure, who is the taxman’s commissioner responsible for investigations allegedly demanded money from a whistleblower,” Nguni said.
According to documents gleaned by NewsDay, Jaure in 2017 allegedly demanded a bribe from a whistleblower to expedite his payments after he reported NetOne for tax evasion of non-resident tax, withholding tax, value added tax, income tax, special exercise due on airtime and pay as your earn in 2015.
The whistleblowing resulted in Zimra allegedly recovering about $18 million. This was after the whistleblower challenged the Zimra investigation that had sought to undercut the figure to $8 million, a challenge that resulted in the suspension of another top Zimra official before the matter was later handled by Jaure.
The whistle blower was entitled to 10% of the proceeds, but has only been paid $73 000 out of the $1,8 million.
“I refused to accede to his demand for a bribe or any form or any undue consideration and this was the beginning of my problems with Mr Jaure. However, in a concerted effort to avoid confrontation I requested Mr Jaure to recuse himself from all my cases as he was conflicted but he vehemently refused,” part of a statement by the whistle blower lodged with his lawyers read.
After he refused to pay Jaure, the whistleblower claimed the Zimra official pulled out evidence from his file and attempted to lie on amounts due to him in a bid to fix him for refusing to pay the bribe. Jaure also allegedly started delaying payment due to the whistle blower to further fix him.
In a letter dated January 11 by the whistle blower’s lawyers, Manase and Manase, “Mr Jaure asked our client to pay a financial consideration in the form of a bribe. This caused our client to write a letter to the board chair expressing his frustration and reservations at the conduct of Mr Jaure.”
But in a letter dated January 8, 2018, Jaure claimed he was only aware of $751 438 43 million and had authorised payment of $73 000 and only $2 000 was outstanding.
“Let me end by reiterating that here is no recovery from NetOne attributed to your client on which the 10% reward has not been paid and other than the $2 000 that your client is aware of,” Jaure wrote to Manase and Manase.
But according to the whistleblower, a local audit company that carried an investigation into NetOne and highlighted the gross irregularities which led to the ouster of former chief executive officer Reward Kangai exposed the rot in access of $18 million.
“The Zimra official has been withholding payments for my cases despite him being legally obliged to do so,” the whistleblower said in the papers that were accompanied by attachments from his lawyers showing how much was due to him.
The attachment showed undervalued figures allegedly by Jaure on case involving Zesa, Zimbabwe Power Company and many more that had been brought to Zimra by the whistleblower in a bid to underpay him.
“Our client appealed to the board chairperson Mrs Bonyongwe and the acting commissioner-general who ordered a re-look into the taxes that our client was not satisfied with. It is pertinent to note that the then acting commissioner immediately suspended a senior Zimra official,” the lawyers wrote.
But Bonyongwe yesterday said her board had not been notified of the investigation.
“Once such an investigation is completed, we would know,” Bonyongwe said yesterday.