Zimra defrauded of ZWL50 million


By Desmond Chingarande

Three Zimra employees who were arrested for defrauding their employer of ZWL50 million in a Vat refunds scheme appaered in court today.

The trio Valentine Chireke (35), Tawonga Nhenga (33) and Leornad Mazanhi (34) appeared before Magistrate Stanford Mambanje who remanded them for bail ruling tomorrow.

Allegations are that sometime in August last year Zimra through its commissioner of customs resolved to waive physical inspection to its clients claiming Value Added Tax (VAT) refund, previously Zimra would visit clients before processing the claim.

The three accused persons acting in connivance with Batanai Zengeni who is still at large hatched a plan to defraud Zimra.

It is alleged Chireke identified companies that are dorment in the Zimra system namely Katumi Investment, Nutroil Pvt Ltd, May Computers and Hefa Electrical and gave details to Nhengo and Mazanhi who then generated Zimra e-services pin for each of the four companies so that they could interact with the Zimra online.

Accused persons allegedly submitted VAT returns online to enable claiming of refunds.

The State alleges that between August 5, 2020 and October 28, 2020 the accused also fraudulently opened Corporate Bank accounts at Banc ABC bank for the four companies where pre account interviews were held virtually using mobile number and Know Your Customers (KYC) documentation was sent to accused through emails and they successfully opened bank accounts for the four companies.

The accused allegedly fraudulently tendered documents to Zimra purporting that they have changed the banking details and submitted VAT refund claims to Zimra well knowing that the claims were false.

Acting on the misrepresentation Zimra paid VAT refund amounting Z$49 399 736 to the companies.

It is alleged between November 27, 2020 and March 2021 the accused moved the money from the bank accounts of the four companies into various bank accounts in a bid to launder the proceeds of the crime.

The offence came to light on March 10 when Zimra internal audit identified high volume of cash on Vat refunds that had been paid to dormant companies.

It is alleged Chireke was arrested and two mobile phones used to withdraw money were recovered.

Malvern Mapako appeared for the State.