Chinese national summoned for trial on US$11 million externalisation allegations

Harare-based Chinese businesswoman Li Song who is facing several allegations of externalization and theft involving millions of United States dollars has been summoned to court for trial on May 21.

Li, who has been evading court appearance since 2021 taking advantage of her alleged political connections, has been summoned to stand trial in matter where the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is a key State witness. Eagle Italian Shoes and Leather director Francesco Marconati is also a witness in the same matter after alerting the RBZ on the illicit transactions to offshore bank accounts which were done without his knowledge. Li and Marconati were business partners at Eagle Italian Shoes and Leather company.

Marconati blew the whistle on the well- organized syndicate externalizing scarce forex through RBZ’s foreign currency auction system. Marconati became a victim of intimidation and arbitrary arrests after blowing the lead on the alleged scam, resulting in him applying for a protection order as a whistleblower. Some of the alleged trumped-up charges leveled against him were eventually dismissed by the courts.

Marconati, who has directorship in several companies that include Eagle Italian Shoes and Leather, Strengthened Investments Private Limited among other companies, claims that Li illegally transferred the companies’ money to her offshore bank accounts registered in Mauritius after falsifying documents.

He claims in his affidavit that he discovered the alleged scam sometime in 2021.

He implicated Li because she was involved in bidding for forex as if on behalf of the company yet it was only for her personal benefit.   

Marconati also discovered that Li was also using other affiliate companies namely; DGL 9 and 5, and Strengthened Investments to facilitate illicit transactions, forging invoices, bidding on the foreign currency system for raw materials which were never purchased or delivered to Zimbabwe. 

He adds that further investigations revealed that Li was using a company registered in Mauritius known as Jacaranda Consulting Services, which in terms of its registration status is an investment company. 

Marconati then reported the matter to RBZ which took up the matter and conducted its own investigations which led it to join the case as complainants against Li. 

Investigations by the RBZ revealed that over US$11 000 000 was externalized through manipulation of the RBZ’s auction system and some local commercial banks.

According to Marconati, sometime in August 2021 Li allegedly  generated a fake proforma invoice, number ZIMBP2119 dated 20 August 2021. The invoice was purportedly raised by Curechem Holdings Limited domiciled at number 201/2A, 2™️ Floor, 1 Cybercity, Ebene, Mauritius and was quoting 60 tonnes hydrate lime at a price of US$13 800, and 60 tonnes of sodium cyanide  for US$144 000 for Strengthened Investments Private Limited. lt is alleged that Li raised this proforma invoice well knowing that Curechem Holdings Limited had not raised such an invoice. Armed with the alleged fake invoice, she approached a local commercial bank and applied for foreign currency through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's foreign exchange auction system. 

By means of the alleged misrepresentation, Li  on September 6, 2021, made a transfer of ZWL6 538 625 from the company’s bank account for the purchase of foreign currency at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. 

On 28 March 2022, complainant's foreign currency account number 5783600044545 was credited with US$157 275.15 being funds availed from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's foreign exchange auction system. 

On April  12, 2022, accused transferred US$78 266.06 and US$77 461.65 on 13 April 2022 into Curechem Holdings Limited’s bank account in Mauritius. Marconati alleges the transfer of money was an  act of externalisation as the raw materials that were supposed to be bought were not delivered. 

After discovering this on October 7, 2021, the company passed a resolution to strip Li of her directorship of the companies she was involved in.

Related Topics