By Tendai Kamhungira
Controversial Harare businessman Wicknell Chivayo has approached the High Court to fight for his release from remand prison, following the dismissal of his bail application at the Harare Magistrates’ Courts.
Chivayo and his company — Intratek Zimbabwe (Private) Limited — are being charged with fraud, money laundering and contravening two sections of the Exchange Control Act.
His lawyer Lewis Uriri told the Daily News yesterday they will be filing an appeal at the High Court in order to secure Chivayo’s release.
“We will be approaching the High Court today (yesterday) late afternoon to file the appeal,” Uriri said.
The appeal comes after Harare magistrate Elisha Singano ruled in favour of the State, which had argued that Chivayo is facing a serious offence which could see him being handed a lengthy prison term if convicted.
Singano said Chivayo was arrested at the airport trying to flee to South Africa, adding that to release him at this stage would undermine the proper administration of justice.
He further said Chivayo was facing a serious offence which involved public funds and that the State had a strong case against him.
The jet-setting businessman had offered to surrender his passport as well as abide by terms that may have been preferred by the court.
Chivayo, came under pressure in recent months to defend the power deals that he signed with power utility Zesa Holdings and its subsidiary, the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC).
This was after it had emerged that Intratek had failed to deliver on the contracts.
Among the deals, the burly businessman — who is often referred to by his associates as Sir Wicknell — was awarded a $200 million tender for the Gwanda Solar Project.
The State is alleging that sometime in 2012, ZPC resolved to increase its national grid.
A feasibility study was carried out and a tender was floated in August 2013 for the installation of a 100 Megawatt solar power plant in Gwanda.
The tender was awarded to a Chinese company China Jianxi at a cost of $183 million.
Chivayo participated in the tender with a bid of $248 million which was ranked third lowest but it was, however, alleged his accomplice, former Energy minister Samuel Undenge, interfered with the process and directed ZPC to award the tender to Chivayo and his company.
He reportedly won the tender at $172 848 597.
The court was told that on October 23, 2015, ZPC acted on the misrepresentation and signed a contract with Chivayo for implementation of the project.
It was alleged that ZPC released $5 607 814, 24 into Intratek’s bank account for the project to take off but allegedly converted or transferred the money into various individual and company accounts.
He was also authorised by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to load $849 479 into his visa cards for the importation of earth-moving equipment in the US for construction works at Gwanda Solar Project
However, it was alleged Chivayo did not import anything.
As a result, ZPC suffered prejudice of $5 607 814.24 and nothing was recovered. Daily News.