Chikumba denies part in Air Zim fraud

HARARE - Former Air Zimbabwe (Air Zim) legal secretary Grace Pfumbidzayi acted unilaterally in appointing Navistar Insurance Brokers, a Harare court heard yesterday.

This was contrary to the company policy pertaining to signing of business contracts.

Pfumbidzayi is jointly charged with Peter Chikumba. They face allegations of siphoning millions of dollars from the struggling national airline.

Appearing before magistrate Fadzai Mtombeni, Chikumba distanced himself from the offence and said Pfumbidzayi did not act appropriately according to Air Zim policy guidelines on appointment of insurance providers.

“Navistar was appointed in a  letter dated March 18, 2009 and the second accused person did not address or copy to anyone else,” Chikumba said.

“I did not even sign it because I neither knew nor got involved in that appointment.”

Chikumba said the paperwork relating to Navistar’s appointment did not link him but Pfumbidzayi’s name.

“The audit in its findings did not find me responsible for Navistar appointment. It does not present evidence relating to an instruction by myself to the effect to appoint Navistar,” he said.

“In its recommendations the audit summarises the parties indicated to have been involved in the appointment of Navistar and clearly relating to myself the recommendations do not include my name.”

Prosecutor Daniel Muchimbiri questioned why the appointment of Navistar remained a “matter under the carpet”.

He queried why Chikumba did not take action after a letter of gratitude was addressed to him from Navistar to show that he was not involved.

“This was a letter coming to thank me for what I had not done,” he said.

“…when the letter came, I referred it to Pfumbidzayi for her to act relevantly not illegally. I referred it to second accused person because she was in charge of that portfolio but she did not come back to me with relevant action.”

Charges against Pfumbidzayi and Chikumba arose after an anomaly was discovered by former Air Zim board chairman Ozias Bvute pertaining to amounts paid between April 2009 and April 2013 to a company called Navistar Insurance Brokers (Private) Limited in respect of aviation insurance premiums.

Pfumbidzayi and Chikumba are accused of inflating aviation insurance premiums in payments 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 Navistar Insurance accomplices, also misrepresented to Air Zim that there was an urgent need for the airline to pay $142 300 to the European Commission to dodge sanctions.

They allegedly converted the money to their own use.

 

Comments (2)

Mr Chikumba if your managers crew up you are accountable for their action, unless you are trying to tell the learned magistrate and Zimbabweans that you were not in control of what was happening in Air Zim?? What else happened that you were not aware of? You are paid to direct an organisation and to ensure robust management systems are in place so do not hide behind your fingure.

Garikayi - 5 March 2015

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