By Paul Katanda
Last Friday, a HARARE firm was hauled into court accused of attempting to defraud the Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (ZINARA) out of $15 million through an interest rate scam.
Interest Research Bereau Zimbabwe (IRBZ) Director Director Mosses Jani (46) represented the company before Magistrate Learnmore Mapiya.
The case was adjourned to August 4 of this year.
The company would specialize in calculating interest on overdrawn and creditor bank accounts.
Court filings indicate that in March 2019, the government, through the Ministry of Finance, entered into a contract with the IRBZ for the recalculation of interest and the collection of overcharged accounts.
ZINARA then received a letter from the Ministry of Finance on March 28, 2019 introducing the IRBZ Global Government Contract to work with state entities.
The two companies then entered into a contract on February 10, 2020 for an existing loan from the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) and other ZINARA bank accounts.
The IRBZ reportedly contacted the DBSA on September 10, 2021 to request access to loan information so that it could recalculate interest on the loan.
The contract signed between ZINARA and the IRBZ stipulates that a commission of 12.5% of the surcharged interest actually collected by the office will be due to the IRBZ.
However, amounts claimed must be credited and retained in ZINARA’s DBSA loan account.
Prosecutors allege that on February 14 of this year, the IRBZ submitted a tax invoice with a claim of $594,032, or 12.5% of $4,752,236, which they falsely presented as an amount recovered from the DBSA.
The following day, the IRBZ reportedly presented another tax invoice with a claim of $14,477,357, calculated as 12.5% of $115,818,858, an amount which it again recovered from the DBSA.
ZINARA requested proof that the DBSA had collected the interest, after which the IRBZ submitted a letter to ZINARA informing it that it was withdrawing the two invoices as it did not have supporting documents from the DBSA.
Investigations carried out established that no amount had been credited and withheld from ZINARA’s DBSA loan account in accordance with their contract.
According to court documents, the IRBZ fraudulently issued two fictitious invoices claiming a 12.5% commission on amounts they misleadingly claimed to have recovered from the DBSA “when in truth and in reality they had no nothing recovered for ZINARA”.