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NPA targets US$50m ill-gotten properties

by Staff reporter
30 Jan 2022 at 08:16hrs | Views
THE Asset Forfeiture Unit at the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has lodged six High Court applications to seize assets from individuals who allegedly acquired them through proceeds of crime.

The individuals reportedly accumulated vast assets including houses, business properties and top-of-the-range vehicles worth over US$50 million.

High-profile individuals who include former Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, ex-Zinara chief executive officer Frank Chitukutuku and Mutare businessman Believe Ranguna, among others, are being targeted.

Assets belonging to Wilfred Shereni, an employee of the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC); Tapfumaneyi Zunguza, a revenue officer at the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority; and Tapuwa Chidemo, a former accountant at the tax collector's office, have also been caught in NPA's dragnet.

Vast asset portfolios that include business properties, houses and motor vehicles could be seized by the State in what would be the biggest asset seizure operation on record.

The High Court has already granted an unexplained wealth order approving the forfeiture of nine vehicles, including a Range Rover and a Land Rover Discovery from Chitukutuku.

He has also lost two large properties in Borrowdale and Glen Lorne.

The former Zinara CEO is accused of amassing wealth after prejudicing the roads authority of US$20 million through irregularly awarding tenders.

An internal memorandum obtained from the NPA also shows that prosecutors are set for a showdown with former Commissioner-General Chihuri's lawyers next week at the High Court, where the State will seek an order to forfeit at least five properties.

"Former Commissioner-General of Police abused his public authority to favour about five companies in which he was the beneficial owner to defraud the police of US$32 million," reads the memorandum.

"The Prosecutor-General seeks forfeiture to the State of the following property: Stands 1792 and 1352 Gletwyn; stand 828 Mt Pleasant Township of Mt Pleasant measuring 4 891 square metres under Deed Number 2807/2017 in the name of Nicole Tawonga Chihuri; Lot 3 of Plot 4 of Juliasdale, Nyanga; subdivision E of Fishponds situated in the District of Lomagundi measuring 9 257 hectares."

The NPA has already obtained an unexplained wealth order against the former police chief, whose lawyers have applied to set it aside.

Yesterday, Chidemo, who was convicted of pilfering over US$1 million from Zimra, approached the High Court to block the seizure of his assets.

The NPA wants to forfeit four properties from the former Zimra  accountant who is serving a six-year sentence.

"A former Zimra accountant stole US$1 239 083,93 from Zimra and was prosecuted and sentenced to six years in jail.

"Meanwhile, the respondent, who acquired the following property, has the matter set down for hearing on January 29, 2022 for forfeiture hearing: Stand number 3036 Shawasha Hills, Glen Lorne; and 215 Foly Jon Crescent, Glen Lorne Harare; stand 215 Glen Lorne Township 8 of Lot 40 A Glen Lorne, Harare, until determination of case number HC 7353/17; stand 2800 12th Share of Parklane Court (Pvt) Ltd until determination of case number HC 7353/17; flat 19 Derwent Lodge, Number 9 Josiah Chinamano Avenue, Harare; and a Mercedes Benz C Class 1997 model registration number AND 5756."

Mutare-based businessman Ranguna could lose eight vehicles and four houses if he fails to explain the source of his wealth.

He is facing money laundering charges.

"The respondent (Ranguna), who is accused of money laundering and has a pending interdict against him granted in HC4979/19 (granted on June 18, 2019) in respect of property in question, went on to conceal the title, interest and ownership of some immovable property which were not part of the said High Court order and for which he had an interest."

Prosecutors also want to seize several properties from Zunguza and his spouse, who was his alleged accomplice.

The PG obtained an unexplained wealth order from the courts and made an application for civil forfeiture, which was heard before the High Court on November 10 last year.

"Both respondents employed by Zimra as revenue officers and are husband and wife, acquired Stands 3807 and 3808 in Mainway Meadows, Waterfalls, Harare, measuring 475 square metres and stand 237, Helensvale Township, Borrowdale, Harare, measuring 2 200 square metres and a Mazda BT50 Twin cab with registration numbers ACT 3233 for the total value of US$762 000."

Prosecutor-General Mr Kumbirai Hodzi told The Sunday Mail his office was determined to seize all the properties.

"We are seeking recovery of all money which was stolen from Government," he said.

"We are going to be revisiting cases in which some people were acquitted, even those who are yet to be prosecuted, we are going for them."

Source - The Sunday Mail