NetOne top brass trial postponed

By Staff reporter | 30 Sep 2020 at 07:51hrs
THE trial of suspended NetOne chief executive officer Lazarus Muchenje and seven other senior managers on fraud allegations was yesterday postponed to October 29 after the State failed to provide them with enough documents to prepare their defence.

Muchenje is jointly charged with board member Paradzai Chakona, interconnection and roaming manager Tawanda Sibanda, acting chief finance officer Tinashe Severa, chief technical officer Darlington Gutu, acting head legal affairs Tanyaradzwa Chingombe, head of innovation and product development Spencer Manguwa, and Sharmaine Kadenhe.

The eight are facing multiple counts of criminal abuse of office as public officers.

Prosecutor George Manokore told the court that they were still to record statements from witnesses and hoped to finish the process by the next remand date.

Magistrate Trynos Utawashe, however, castigated the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) for arresting to investigate, saying it violated the liberty of the accused persons.

Muchenje allegedly recruited personal security guards and also hired top-of-the-range vehicles without board approval.

He is also accused together with Gutu and Chingombe of illegally contracting an international company and offering discount without board approval.

It is alleged Muchenje, Gutu and Chingombe corruptly caused NetOne to enter into a contract with Bankai International Pvt Ltd of Mauritius and Bridgevoice INC, a company incorporated under United States law, to sell NetOne airtime overseas by connecting Bankai to NetOne prepaid platform.

The State alleges that Bankai was granted a 20% airtime discount which was above the 11% discount the company was giving to its dealers. It is also alleged Muchenje was enjoying an illegal housing benefit which saw NetOne losing US$363 875.

The State alleges that Sibanda represented NetOne as the lessor and Muchenje as the lessee.

A rental of US$1 000 was agreed by the parties although they had been advised by Pam Holding Properties and Kennan Properties that the rental for the house in question was between US$2 500 and US$3 500.

As a result of this, Muchenje was enjoying an unjustified housing benefit for the period extending from January 2019 to January 2020 at the expense of NetOne.

Muchenje also allegedly engaged personal security and misrepresented that the security guards would provide 24-hour protection to the NetOne building when in actual fact, the guards provided security to him.



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