Air Zim bosses remanded in custody

HARARE - Three Air Zimbabwe (Private) Limited (Air Zimbabwe) bosses, who were arrested on fraud allegations, were yesterday remanded in custody, pending their bail application on Monday.

Peter Chikumba, 59, Grace Nyaradzai Pfumbidzai, 49 and Innocent Mavhunga, 53, appeared before Harare magistrate Tendai Mahwe for their initial remand hearing.

Chikumba and Pfumbidzai are appearing on a single record on which they are facing charges of criminal abuse of duty as public officers and fraud.

Pfumbidzai also appears on another record with Mavhunga, where they are facing fraud charges.

Chikumba is represented by Admire Rubaya, while Andrew Muvirimi appeared on behalf of Pfumbidzai  and  Mavhunga is represented by Ticharwa Garabga.

All the legal representatives concurred with prosecutor Michael Reza to postpone the matter to Monday for bail application, after the trio was brought to court late yesterday.

Allegations are that Chikumba, Air Zimbabwe’s ex-boss, and currently Celebration Centre’s chief executive officer (CEO) together with Pfumbidzai, the struggling

airline’s manager and company secretary, corruptly abused their duties as public officers.

The court heard that charges against the duo arose last year, after an anomaly was discovered by the board of directors chaired by Ozias Bvute, on amounts paid between April 2009 and April 2013, to a company called Navistar Insurance Brokers (Private) Limited in respect of aviation insurance premiums.

State alleges the duo enlisted the services of Navistar to provide aviation and insurance cover, without going to tender, while services of other existing companies were terminated.

The two are further accused of inflating aviation insurance premiums together with their alleged accomplices, Givemore Nderere, Vukile Hlupo and Orten Mawire, who are still at large.

Inflated payments were allegedly made to Colemont Reinsurance Brokers (Private) Limited and Reinsurance Brokers (Private) Limited, both United Kingdom-based companies. 

The firm allegedly released €15 452, 93 to Navistar,  €10 607 859, 22 to the two British companies, while they pocketed €5 895 695, 49.

In May 2009, it is alleged the duo and their three accomplices on the run, also misrepresented to Air Zimbabwe that there was an urgent need for the airline to pay $142 300 to the European Commission to avoid it from being placed under sanctions.

They allegedly converted the money to their own use.

The court heard that Pfumbidzai and Mavhunga, who is the airline’s acting group CEO, but currently on suspension, originated fictitious debit notes in the sum of $1 659 276, 58 in 2012.

The money was purportedly requested for the aviation insurance premiums for two leased A320 airbuses.

The transaction was intercepted by auditors, but the airline had already released $360 448, 68, the court heard.

It is alleged the duo further claimed $800 000 for aviation insurance, but the board later discovered that the premiums were fully covered during the period.

Comments (2)

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Irrrigation Matters - 17 February 2014

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Kuraira - 17 February 2014

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