Court orders seizure of Cottco documents in corruption case

A local magistrate court on Wednesday issued an authority to police and some anti-corruption investigators to seize documents and records believed to be constituting evidence of the alleged US$5 million fraud at the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco).

This follows last week’s arrest of Gokwe – Nembudziya legislator, Justice Major Wadyajena, alongside three Cottco directors and Chiedza Danha, the director of Pierpont Moncroix Mauritius, which was reportedly used as a conduit to defraud Cottco.

Cottco is 37 percent owned by the Government and the company administers the Presidential Free Cotton Inputs schemes that supports nearly 400 000 households.

Wadyajena and the suspended Cottco MD Pious Manamike and head of marketing and ginning Maxmore Njanji, are alleged to have diverted money meant for the importation of bale ties and instead bought trucks through the legislator’s firm, Mayor Logistics.

The trucks and other luxury cars owned by Wadyajena have since been seized authorities.

A Harare magistrate granted the accused $200 000 bail each and ordered them to surrender titles to their properties.

In granting the bail, regional magistrate, Stanford Mambanje, said the state had failed to provide compelling reasons that warrant the continued detention of the accused.

A week after their arrests, the Kwekwe magistrate court issued a warrant to police and the Zimbabwe Anti Corruption–to search records and documents containing information on bale ties received since 2018–at Cottco’s main depot in Gokwe, the company’s largest business unit.

The warrant also sought the search of record on scrap bales ties in stock, records of auctions since 2018, drawdowns on issued bale ties, documents of the suppliers and transporters as well as bale ties issued by Pierpont Moncrox, Mayo Logistics and Giant Equipment.

Earlier, this publication had been informed that the bales ties were received “in full”, raising suspicion that the larger part of the consignment might have been smuggled.

An investigation has so far reviewed that bales worth only US$280 000 were received.

“The schedule show that by end of August 2019, about 3,2 million bale ties had been received as per the internal requisition order signed by Manamike and Jacqueline Dube, the head of finance; so the arrest might have been premature,” one of the investigators, who declined not to be identified because is not authorised to talk to press.

“If it is proven beyond any reasonable doubt that the bales were indeed delivered, then the next case could probably be smuggling…how the bales got into the country.”

Last week’s arrest was for the second time for Manamike and Njanji in less than two months.  The duo are facing corruption charges mainly cantered on conflict of interest after failing to declare their business interest to their “principals.” – Herald

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