Court rebuffs GMB bosses' challenge to $1m fraud rap

HARARE - A Harare court yesterday turned away a challenge to the prosecution of three Grain Marketing Board Pension Fund (GMBPF) executives facing charges of defrauding the grain utility of $1 million.

Harare regional magistrate Lucy Mungwari declined to take up an appeal by executives Korbs Kobie Mutandiro, 59, Basilio Sandamu, 64, and Taona Munzvandi, 48, for exception to the fraud charges, throwing out their challenge that claimed their company was supposed to be charged as a legal entity not in their individual capacities.

According to the State, sometime in the late 90s, the government embarked on the Land Reform Programme which involved compulsory acquisition of land for re-distribution.

In terms of the Land Acquisition Act Chapter 20:10 and through an extraordinary Government Gazette general notice 591 of 2001, a notice was given to acquire Romany Farm under deed of transfer number 5421.

It was alleged that on April 30, 2013, Munzvandi, allegedly in connivance with Mutandiro and Sandamu, hatched a plan to defraud the fund.

The court heard Munzvandi and Mutandiro entered into an agreement of sale of the said farm to GMBPF for $2,5 million knowing that the farm had been acquired by the State.

Acting on the misrepresentation, GMBPF transferred $1 040 000 into Organs Resources (Pvt) Ltd Standard Chartered Bank corporate account where Mutandiro is the director and signatory to the bank account.  Earlier, Mutandiro had allegedly fraudulently acquired 51 percent of the shares from the previous owner David John Sheehan for a purported value ZW$5 million.

Mutandiro then allegedly connived with his accomplices and entered into an agreement of sale with GMBPF for $2,5 million although they knew that the farm had been acquired by the State.

A memorandum of understanding was subsequently entered between Romany Farm and GMBPF for a joint venture for purposes of land development.

The court heard Mutandiro, Sandamu and Munzvandi did so without a requisite certificate-of no-present-interest.  After the agreement had been completed, Munzvandi then allegedly instructed the finance manager at GMBPF to transfer $1 070 000 into Mutandiro’s Organs Resources.

The offence was unearthed after GMBPF realised that Romany Farm had been handed over to Local Government ministry for urban development in 2015.

As a result, GMBPF was prejudiced $1 040 000 and nothing was recovered. 

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