Extra-territorial probe delays trial proceedings in US$150 000 botched cyanide deal

Li is accused of transferring more than US$150 0 000 from a local company's bank account to a Mauritian bank account belonging to Curechem Holdings Limited, which is registered in Zimbabwe.

The trial of a Chinese national, Li Song, who is accused of swindling a local company of US$150 000 in a botched cyanide import deal has been delayed by extra-territorial investigations, the court heard.

Song is accused of transferring more than US$150 000 to a Mauritius bank account belonging to Curechem Holdings Limited which is registered in Zimbabwe.

According to the State, extra-territorial investigations were granted and the local police and lnterpol are waiting for resources to travel to Mauritius for further investigation.

The complainant in the matter is Francesco Marconati an ltalian national who is a majority shareholder in Strengthened Investments Private Limited.

Allegations are that sometime in August 2021, the accused hatched a plan to steal from the company and generated proforma invoice number ZIMBP2119 dated August 20, 2021.

The proforma invoice was purportedly raised by Curechem Holdings Limited domiciled at number 201/2A, second Floor, 1 Cybercity, Ebene, Mauritius and quoted 60 tonnes hydrate lime at the price of US$13 800 and 60 tonnes sodium cyanide for US$144 000 for Strengthened Investments Private Limited.

It is alleged that armed with the invoice, Song approached Ecobank Zimbabwe’s Borrowdale branch, Harare, and applied for foreign currency through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)’s foreign exchange auction system.

The State alleges that through the misrepresentation on September 6, 2021, the accused made a transfer of ZWL$6 538 625,33 from the complainant’s Ecobank local currency account for the purchase of foreign currency at the RBZ.

On March 28, 2022, the complainant’s foreign currency account was credited with US$157 275,15 being funds availed from the RBZ.

On April 12, 2022, the accused transferred US$78 266,06 and US$77 461,65 the following day into Curechem Holdings Limited’s bank account in Mauritius.

The matter came to light when Curechem Overseas Private Limited, a registered company in Zimbabwe and an agent of Curechem Holdings Limited Mauritius got an alert that it had received funds in respect of Strengthened Investments Private Limited for which it wanted to verify the purpose of the money since it had not communicated with the complainant in connection with the transaction.

Curechem Overseas Private Limited alerted the complainant of the transactions who disowned it and reported the matter to police.

 lnvestigations were carried out with the assistance of Ecobank Zimbabwe, Curechem Overseas Private Limited and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and it was established that the accused raised a proforma invoice for the purposes of acquiring foreign currency through RBZ and to purchase chemicals outside the country, without the knowledge and consent of the complainant.

After the discovery of the offence, the complainant advised Curechem Holdings Limited Mauritius to hold the funds pending investigation.

The funds are still being held in Mauritius.

The State alleges that because of the accused's actions, the complainant suffered actual financial prejudice in the sum of ZWL$6 538 625,33 which is equivalent to US$155 727,71 and nothing was recovered.

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