. . . receives illegal cash payments
. . . elbows out, exiles investor
DETAILS of Vice President Joice Mujuru’s illicit business dealings have begun to emerge amid revelations she received, and signed for thousands of dollars in illegal cash payments from Kenyan and Indian financiers who had invested in the Mujuru family-owned duty-free shops at the Harare International Airport before the VP elbowed out the investors in a manner that bordered on extortion and abuse of office.
Not only did the VP receive cash payments in violation of the Companies Act and income tax regulations, but she also stands accused of having abused her office and political status to compel the lawyers of the aggrieved party to unethically renounce agency in addition to running the investors out of town soon after they had pumped in over $1 million in capital and made tens of thousands of dollars in cash payments to the VP, her daughter Nyasha De Campo and Mr Tirivanhu Mudariki, who is listed as a director in International Travel Shops.
Documents in possession of The Herald show that Vice President Mujuru had interests in duty-free shops at the Harare International Airport trading as International Travel Shops Africa (Pvt) Ltd with Tirivanhu Mudariki as director, along with VP Mujuru’s daughter Nyasha De Campo (nee Mujuru), two Kenyans Mukesh Vaya and Nilesh Ashkal Kantil as well as Babu RM a citizen of India.
Though the VP is not listed among the directors, her name features prominently in the documents.
Sometime in 2011, Africa Duty Free Investments (Pvt) — the proprietors of International Travel Shops Africa — negotiated with Kenyans who have a company called Susan General Trading that is incorporated in Dubai to inject stock and capital in International Travel Shops Africa.
In terms of the agreement, International Travel Shops Africa were to offload 50 percent shareholding, translating to 5000 shares, to Susan General Trading for $150 000 payable to the company, International Travel Shops Africa.
In addition to the 50 percent shareholding, there was supposed to be payment of goodwill payable, again, to International Travel Shops Africa, a loan of $50 000 to shareholders of International travel shops Africa and repayable through dividends, and a loan of $1 million to the company meant for capital injection.
Contrary to provisions of the Companies Act, cash payments were made directly to the directors, including VP Mujuru who was not shown on company documents as either director or shareholder.
VP Mujuru, Mrs De Campo and Mr Mudariki each received the payments, which they personally signed for on the documents in our possession, in the following amounts:
- VP Mujuru: $25 000 on December 30 2011, $25 000 on January 3 2012, and $20 000 on January 5 2012 to make a total of $70 000.
- Tirivanhu Mudariki: $25 000 on December 30 2011, $25 000 on January 9 2012, $20 000 on January 13 2012, and $40 000 on January 17 2012 to make a cumulative $100 000.
- Nyasha Noreen Nyorova: $25 000 on December 30 2011, $25 000 on January 3 2012, and $20 000 on January 5 2012 to make a cumulative $70 000.
It is, however, not clear whether Zimra got its dues though indications are the tax laws were violated.
The last cash payment was made in January 2012, but less than a month later after the consummation of the agreements and payment of cash and loans were made, Mr Mudariki on behalf of the shareholders of the International Travel Shops Africa began complaining that Susan General Trading, who had been given a management contract, was not properly running the affairs of International Travel Shops Africa.
In a letter dated February 29 2012, copied to VP Mujuru, Mr Mudariki expressed International Travel Shops Africa’s “utmost disappointment’’ in the manner in which International Travel Shops was being run by Susan General Trading and voiced their dissatisfaction and lack of confidence in its management team.
It appears from the documents that the directors of International Travel Shops expected a turnaround within a month of receiving their last cash payment, a development industry experts described as self-fulfilling criticism whose intention was extortionist.
‘’This complaint was deliberately designed to wreck the agreement by paving the way to manipulatively elbow out Susan General Trading soon after it made it made cash payments and provided loans and stock that had not been repaid,’’ said an industry source familiar with the case who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of political reprisals.
In consummating the agreement, Susan General Trading was represented by Musunga and Associates. When they were being controversially elbowed out, Susan General Trading cried foul and initially sought arbitration in accordance with the agreement.
But as relations irretrievably broke down and the disagreement escalated, the directors of International Travel Shops went political by invoking VP Mujuru’s name, and Musunga and Associates — who had represented Susan General Trading since 2011 — wrote a letter dated April 15 2013 to Susan General Trading unethically renouncing agency citing alleged conflict of interest saying they also represented Zanu-PF of which VP Mujuru is a senior leader.
‘’We refer to the above matter and herein advise that we will not be able to represent you in the above matter. We had hoped that the matter would be resolved amicably but the turn of events suggest that the parties are all geared to fight it out.
‘’Our firm represent the Zanu-PF in a number of cases and we note that our Honourable Vice President Mujuru is one of the parties. We, therefore, have a clear conflict of interest and we regret to advise that you will have to retain another firm of lawyers,’’ reads the letter from Musunga and Associates which clearly confirms VP Mujuru’s involvement in the matter which industry sources say is scandalous and illegal.
According to the documents, the lawyers had always known from the beginning that VP Mujuru had an interest in International Travel Shops.
Musunga and Associates, thus, effectively dumped their client and began representing VP Mujuru in the dispute raising very serious questions of unethical conduct on the part of the lawyers in a bid to protect VP Mujuru and to assist the extortionist elbowing out of Susan General Trading who as a result are said to have lost over a million dollars.
‘’Because of the controversial and unethical renunciation of agency by Musunga and Associates, Susan General Trading were left without legal recourse, were politically intimidated and threated and they ended up fleeing their investment and the country’s jurisdiction, and have not come back into Zimbabwe since then,’’ said an industry source.
A legal expert, who also spoke to the Herald on condition of anonymity in light of the ongoing interview for High Court judges, described how Susan General Trading was treated as a clear case of abuse of power and office.
‘’This is a very serious example of extortion, and abuse of office and political status. Although the case raises eyebrows, it is only a tip of iceberg. There are other similar cases whose corruption stinks to high heaven from an extortionist point of view’’.
Efforts to get comment from Musunga and Associates, Mr Mudariki and Susan General Trading were unsuccessful last night.
During her highly subscribed “Meet the People” rallies in all 10 provinces, First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe rapped VP Mujuru and called on her to resign or risk being fired for alleged corruption, abuse of office, extorting shareholding from companies and demanding 10 percent bribes from potential investors.