HARARE - Four Finance ministry employees have been hauled before the Harare Magistrates’ Courts after they reportedly swindled government of over $700 000.
Varaidzo Margret Chirahwi, 32, who is the ministry’s senior economist, Jacob Forgive Mlambo, 30, an accountant, Stanley Zharare, 40, deputy director external finance and Mary Takavarasha, 40, acting director finance and capital Markets were yesterday freed by magistrate Milton Serima on $1 000 bail each.
According to State papers, the complainant is the Finance ministry, represented by John Masiyanise.
Allegations against the four arose in December last year, when they manufactured and submitted to the accountant general’s office fake invoices for payment in the names of Nico Orgo (Private) Limited and Pioneer Hibred (Private) Limited. It was later established that the companies were non-existent.
The four reportedly further attached a fake covering letter purportedly originated by Kudakwashe Zata, a finance director in the Agriculture ministry, indicating that the two companies had supplied inputs worth $412 095 and were due for payment.
According to State papers, on the same day, the ministry, acting on the fake documents, instructed FBC Bank to effect a transfer of $220 050 into accused’s Banc ABC account and $192 045 into another’s Steward Bank account. It is alleged that the two bank accounts were opened in December last year.
The court heard that between December 31, last year and January this year, the four withdrew a total of
$407 785 through cash withdrawals and transferred $92 750 into an FBC Bank account and $79 915 into a Steward Bank account.
As a result, the ministry suffered a total prejudice of $412 000.
It is alleged, using the same trick, the group submitted another fake invoice worth $317 250 in the name of Pioneer Hibred for payment on January 5, 2015.
The State further noted that as a result, the ministry acted upon the fake documents and instructed FBC Bank to transfer $317 250 into accused’s Banc ABC account which they had previously used.
It is alleged that between January 7, and 12, this year, the accused withdrew $312 945 in cash leaving a balance of $4 310.
The offence only came to light on January 15, this year when the Agriculture ministry, through Zata requested the Finance ministry to release funds to Reapers (Private) Limited, Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company and Windmill (Private) Limited, but was surprised to learn that the bank balance was insufficient to meet the payments.
Due to accused’s actions, the ministry suffered an actual prejudice of $729 345 and only $4 310 was recovered.