Senior Harare lawyer faces fraud charge

HARARE - A senior Harare lawyer is facing criminal charges after he allegedly pocketed his client’s money meant to cover a mortgage debt owed to Zimplats (Private) Limited (Zimplats).

Edson Tapuwa Mudambanuki from Mudambanuki and Associates Legal Practitioners is accused of fraud and theft of trust property.

State papers claim the 50-year-old lawyer swindled funds from Tonderai Nhika, who is the head of corporate projects and structured finance with the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe.

Allegations against Mudambanuki, who is represented by Everson Chadambuka, arose in 2009 after his client Denford Mugauri engaged the senior lawyer to represent him in a civil suit.

This followed Mugauri’s failure to pay a mortgage loan owed to Zimplats.

In March last year, the High Court ruled that Mugauri was supposed to pay the capital sum of $155 090, plus a 5,8 percent interest every year dating back to May 2008.

According to State papers, the money was supposed to be paid within six months, failure of which he was to surrender his Greystone Park house.

Mugauri asked Mudambanuki to surrender the house, but the lawyer opted to have the property sold and realise a profit.

Mugauri later gave Mudambanuki the mandate to sell the house for at least $250 000 in July last year, before he sold it to Nhlalo Moyo.

The transaction however, failed to succeed, further leaving Mudambanuki with an obligation to find another buyer.

The six months within which Mugauri was supposed to pay the money to Zimplats lapsed and he asked Mudambanuki to surrender the house, but he held on to the property.

He later sold the house for $210 000 to Nhika in September last year and transferred $180 000 into Zimplats’ trust account and pocketed the difference.

However, Zimplats refused to effect change of ownership for the property, demanding the full payment.

As a result Nhika was prejudiced after failing to have full ownership of the house.

Mudambanuki is out of custody and will be back in court on May 19.

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