Signwriter jailed 4 years inFinance ministry's $700k swindle

HARARE - A 64-year-old sign writer who forged signatures on documents that were used to swindle the Finance ministry of $700 000 was yesterday jailed for four years.

Misheck Gideon Zharu of 24012 Eastview, Caledonia in Harare, was initially sentenced to five years in prison for “forgery” by magistrate Vakayi Chikwekwe.

Zharu forged signatures on ministry of Agriculture request for payment letters which were then directed to Finance ministry, resulting in the inappropriate release of the $729 345.

One year was suspended on condition Zharu did not commit a similar offence within five years.

In mitigation, Zharu begged for mercy. He said he had only made $2 000 from the scam.

He urged the courts to consider that he was a father of 10 children and eight grandchildren. 

“I plead guilty to the offence but I only got $2 000 out of the whole deal,” he said.

“It was Christopher Kumisai who brought the documents and tasked me to forge Kudakwashe Zata (a finance director in the Agriculture ministry)’s signature.

“I am an artist who is into sign writing and it was the devil that came over me. I have a son who is overseas who can assist me to repay that money.”

Chikwekwe said Zhara’s moral blameworthiness was very high because his signatures “made a struggling government lose a lot of money”.

“I have considered that you pleaded guilty thus showing contrition,” the magistrate said.

“However, there was no element of sudden temptation and convicted person was the architect of all signatures which led to prejudice of more than $700 000.

“Government has limited resources in terms of finance and many programmes have been stalled but convicted person benefited from that offence.”

Zhara also appears on a fraud charge involving $729 345 with 13 co-accused persons, six of whom are employed by the ministry.

According to State papers, the complainant is the Finance ministry, represented by John Masiyanise.

Allegations against the group 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.

They attached a fake covering letter purportedly originating from Zata, indicating that the two companies had supplied inputs worth $412 095 and were entitled to get payment.

According to State papers,  the ministry, acting on the fake documents, instructed FBC Bank to effect a transfer of $220 050 into accused’s BancABC account and $192 045 into another Steward Bank account.

It is alleged that the two bank accounts were opened in December last year.

The court heard that between December 31, and January this year, the accused persons withdrew a total of $407 785 through cash withdrawals and transferred $92 750 into an FBC Bank account.

At least $79 915 was transferred into a Steward Bank account.

As a result, the ministry suffered a total prejudice of $412 000.

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 ministry acted upon the fake documents and instructed FBC Bank to transfer $317 250 into the accused’s BancABC account which they had previously used. It is alleged that between January 7 to 12, the accused withdrew $312 945 in cash, leaving a balance of $4 310.

The offence only came to light on January 15, 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.

 

Comments (4)

my best friend's ex-wife makes $63 /hr on the laptop . She has been unemployed for ten months but last month her check was $19437 just working on the laptop for a few hours. go to the website .for work detail go to tech tab..... ====> www.goo.gl/4bDbql

morkal - 12 March 2015

Are these ministries' employees not covered by the "Immune jacket" the DNA, ideology, policy ,practice, traditions and values by being an arm of a ruling voluntary organisation. They must be in the gammatox basket . The sentence should be stiff not this fours years. Possession of pangolin 15years , Eating a phython eight years. stealing from Finance ministry "worse of a broke country" fours years.

X-MAN IV - 12 March 2015

Ask Zata nicely...he knows the truth!! They found a punching bag in poor Misheck...the real indodha are in the Agriculture Ministry!!!!

Garikayi - 13 March 2015

"The offence only came to light on January 15, 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." So the Ministry of Finance keeps Ministry of Agriculture's Bank records/balances right. How can the Agriculture Min be told by Finance Min that their bank balance is not sufficient. In any case if it is Min of Agriculture Acc being held by the Finance Min what happened to periodic/monthly recons.

Stevo - 13 March 2015

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