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Dembare boss faces fraud charges

by Staff reporter
09 Jul 2021 at 11:11hrs | Views
DYNAMOS board of trustees' chairman, Bernard Marriot Lusengo, yesterday appeared in court on allegations of defrauding the country's biggest football club, and the private company under which it falls, of a 51 percent shareholding.

It's the latest, if not significant, twist in the long-running saga related to the ownership of the country's most successful football club, which has been the subject of boardroom battles for decades. However, while the previous battles have been fought in the civil courts, it's the first time that Marriot has been dragged into a criminal court to answer charges of allegedly using illegal means to take ownership of the club.

He appeared before Harare magistrate, Shane Kubonera, who remanded the matter to July 26, for trial.

The complainant is Dynamos FC (Pvt) Ltd, represented by Robson Rundaba, a former powerful ally of Marriot, before the duo fell out over issues related to the ownership of the club. He is the head of directors at the company, which owns the football club, where Marriot is one of the directors, according to the court papers. The court heard that sometime in 2008, Dynamos FC articles of association were replaced through a special resolution.

The net effect of the articles of association was to allocate some shares to people who were active members of the club, during the period, extending from the club's formation in 1963 to 1968. It is alleged that this was in accordance with the recommendations of the Sports and Recreation Commission.

The articles of association were adopted through Article 6 to 19, and a threemember committee was set up to look into the issue of allocation payment, distribution and issuing of share certificates. The committee comprised Rundaba, Marriot and Casper Muzenda, who once occupied the role of chief executive, at the football club. However, the court heard that the allocation of shares, and issuance of certificates, was not done. It is the State's case that in February 2014, Rundaba reported a case, involved an alleged fraudulent transaction, which involved Webster Marechera, who was the club treasurer.

Marechera is now the club secretary-general. Other board members were said to have been unhappy, with the decision to report the fraud case and, the court heard, they called for a meeting, in Rundaba's absence, and resolved to replace him, as director of finance, with the late Owen Chandamale.

On April 21, 2014, it is alleged the Dynamos board resolved that Rundaba withdraw the matter from the court and he complied with the resolution on August 18, 2014. However, Rundaba, unhappy with that decision, decided to excuse himself from the day-to-day running of Dynamos affairs, although he never quit his role as a director, at Dynamos (Pvt) Ltd. It is alleged that in 2019, Rundaba received a call from someone, only identified as Chitambo, of Sakunda Holdings, advising him that Marriot had approached the company seeking sponsorship for Dynamos FC.

The allegations are that during his approach, Marriot claimed he was now the sole owner of the club, through the company which owns the football franchise.  Rundaba allegedly convened a meeting with Chitambo in the company of the late Simon Sachiti in which Chitambo hinted that Marriot had now changed his earlier claims, and was now saying he owned 51 percent of the company shares. It was Marriot's claim to Sakunda Holdings, suggesting he was now the sole owner of the company and club, which prompted Rundaba to make a report to the police, who conducted investigations on the matter.

The court heard that investigations revealed Marriot had allegedly manipulated the process of shares and distribution and awarded himself a 51 percent shareholding capacity without the knowledge or approval of Rundaba. That conduct can cause a potential prejudice of the 51 percent shareholding of the company which owns Dynamos FC.

The CR14, CR2 and articles of association, for Dynamos, will be produced in court as exhibits. Dynamos have been stalked by ownership wrangles for decades, and In March last year, the High Court dismissed the application made by the Dynamos Trust chairperson, Isaac Nhema,  Justice Chiweshe ruled that Nhema had no legal authority to represent the trust in the battle for club ownership, which was between Marriot and some of the founding fathers. Two years earlier, in May 2017, the Dynamos Trust approached the High Court seeking to be joined as a party to the proceedings related to the ownership wrangle, stemming from a 2010 court case.

Other trustees of the Dynamos Trust were listed as George Shaya, Ernest Kamba, Peter Huni, Willard Sarupinda, Isidore Sagwete and Cremio Mapfumo. However, the application was dismissed.

"In casu, the second applicant (Dynamos Trust) has been wrongly cited. Secondly, the resolution relied upon by Isaac Nhema was made by a committee, and not the trustee, who are empowered to litigate on behalf of the second applicant,'' Justice Chiweshe ruled.

"Under these circumstances a court should be circumspect and decline to exercise its discretion in favour of the deponent.

"For that reason, I must uphold the point in limine raised by the respondents (Richard Chiminya and others), namely that Isaac Nhema is not authorised to represent the second applicant in this matter.  

"The effect of that conclusion is that there is no application before the court. The application is doomed a failure.''

The 2010 court case was launched as an attempt to bar Dynamos FC (Pvt) Ltd, led by Marriot, from running the club. In their heads of argument, the Trustees were seeking that: "The quoted management, and control of Dynamos Football Club, formed the subject of SC93/2005, the terms of which the second applicant considers not to have been implemented, in the terms of the said Supreme Court judgment.  

"Once joined as a party (it would enable them) to steer the course, to fulfil the objectives, as set out in the Supreme Court judgment.

"What ought to be elucidated, in the HC1820/10 and 2623/10, which regrettably is somewhat obscured in those court cases, is the implementation of the terms of the Supreme Court judgment.

"The ownership, and management of Dynamos, should be done 'in terms of the 1963 constitution until such time as it is lawfully repealed or amended."

Source - the herald
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