Fidelity bosses lose separate trials bid

HARARE - A Harare magistrate yesterday  denied defence motions to separate corruption trials against Fidelity Printers and Refiners (Fidelity) bosses facing $800 000 fraud charges.

Harare regional magistrate Noel Mupeiwa denied the Fidelity bosses’ motions for separate trials after ruling that they had wilfully participated in the delay of court proceedings.

The ruling means a joint trial will go forward February 14, as scheduled.

Fidelity accountant Ronald Madhara, Tinashe Wellington Mumbengegwi, senior finance manager James Muneno and Swisspak Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd are on trial over allegations of fraud and money laundering.

They were represented by Lovemore Madhuku, Oliver Marwa and Muyengwa Motsi.

Madhuku sought a postponement to January 31 on the basis that the High Court had communicated that they were considering hearing his review of the ruling by Mupeiwa to acquit Godknows Hofisi, chief operating officer and Terrence Tererayi Machawira, the company secretary, at the close of the State case.

“The defence counsels for second and third accused person have submitted that there has been unreasonable delay hence their clients would be prejudiced if they are put on remand while the first accused person pursues his review

“There was nothing that this could have done to prevent the delay.

“Sometime in May, the same accused persons applied for time to prepare their defence and took about three months.

“The reasons behind the delay are justifiable,” Mupeiwa ruled.

“Their application for separation of trial is premature but if it is made on the next date they may be a different consideration.”

Prosecutor Michael Reza had objected the application saying it could have a negative effect on the State case.

“…If such an application is granted, clearly that would be the death of my case and would not be in the interests of justice,” Reza said.

“The accused persons are trying to get by the back door what they could not get by the front door.

“They are inviting this court to subvert interests of justice yet the accused persons and those charges are conjoined twins.”

Marwa queried how separation of trials would prejudice the State case since the accused persons were not implicating each other.

“My client is not party to the application for review made by the first accused person.

“Is the State saying that if one of the accused persons were to die, that would be the death of their case?”

Allegations against the trio are that sometime in 2008, Munemo opened a shelf company that was in the business of selling and fitting electrical gadgets.

During the period extending from October 2013 to September 2014, Hofisi, Mumbengegwi Madhara, and Machawira allegedly transferred $579 042 from their employer’s account into Swisspack Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd Stanbic bank account.

It is further alleged that between December last year to April this year, a further $201 518 was transferred into Swisspack Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd.

The court heard that an internal auditor unearthed the offence on June 4 last year.

The accused persons reportedly misrepresented that Munemo had supplied gold to Fidelity Printers and Refiners.

It is alleged that Munemo would withdraw the money and share it with the quartet.

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