HARARE – War veterans leader, Chris Mutsvangwa, testified over the phone in a United States tax fraud case — which had sucked in Zimbabwean senior government officials — resulting in the conviction of former Chicago Congressman, Mel Reynolds.
By Andrew Kunambura
Reynolds was convicted of deliberately failing to file tax returns for about $400 000 in income he made when he was consulting for a Chicago businessman in Zimbabwe between 2010 and 2014, before he was deported to the US for overstaying his visa,
Mutsvangwa yesterday confirmed the developments to the Daily News on Sunday, detailing how US prosecutors recorded his evidence over the phone.
“I was telephoned by two US prosecutors on Wednesday. I gave my evidence and expressed readiness to fly to Chicago to stand witness against (Mel) Reynolds before Judge Gettleman.
“That saw scared Reynolds cowering and backing off to conviction for a possible four years,” said Mutsvangwa.
“I told Chicago prosecutor James Carrigan that Reynolds defrauded both his Chicago benefactors and me through bank fraud.
“He used to divert investor funds to his South African accounts. He had no company expenses as he had no office and no employees.
“I have been to Zimra, Stanbic, Meikles and the Manikai-Hwacha Lawyers collating all the information on Reynolds, the fraudster and purveyor of pornography during his stay in Zimbabwe masquerading as a businessman,” he added.
Mutsvangwa was director of SubSahara Africa, a company formed by Chicago businessman, Elzie Higginbottom in partnership with Reynolds in 2009.
The company collapsed in 2012 after it only managed to make one deal, a contract to sell latex gloves to Zimbabwe hospitals which made a whopping $100 000 loss.
Mutsvangwa also described to the prosecutors how Reynolds allegedly left him sinking in a huge debt following his deportation in 2014.
“Reynolds registered a local company, SubSahara Africa in 2010 and I was invited to be the Zimbabwean director under the instruction of Higginbottom.
“Reynolds proceeded to open an account with Interfin Bank and promptly ran up a huge loan bill at usurious interest rates.
“He expatriated the drawdowns to his daughter, now posted from USA to UCT (University of Cape Town) or studies. This became his second source of income apart from Higginbottom investment transfers he was defrauding.
“The Interfin loan then ballooned from $50 000 to $200 000 plus bank charges within months.
“The defaulting loan is then called in and I was being sued by Interfin Bank through Manikai Hwacha law firm.
“That is when I realised I was the victim of a scam. They wanted to attach my assets, so I had to pay off the loan of $200 000, otherwise I was going to be sequestered.
“So, when I gave all this information to the US and expressed my willingness to fly to Chicago to testify and he found out Mutsvangwa would come (to the Chicago High Court) he rested his case out of fear” he said.
Mutsvangwa also claimed his political rivals had seized the issue and were trying to link him to the fraud to tarnish his image.
“They had pulled a big one on me, dragging my name into the far off Chicago High Court trial in amplified mischief.
“The G40 had infiltrated this Reynolds crook but they underestimated my global network.
“They believe power can be won by tarnishing other people’s images. My response was swift and ferocious,” he claimed, referring to a Zanu PF faction which differs sharply with his preferred political style.
Mutsvangwa and his Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) executive have openly declared that they want Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to succeed President Robert Mugabe, a proposition which G40 vehemently opposes. – Daily News