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Zimra boss sued over $1,5m debt

By Tendai Kamhungira

HARARE – Gershem Pasi, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) commissioner general, is failing to pay back $1,5 million he borrowed from Interfin Banking Corporation Limited (Interfin) to fund operations for his diamond cutting and polishing company.

Gershom Pasi, the Zimra Commissioner General
Gershom Pasi, the Zimra Commissioner General

The bank has since filed a High Court application demanding its money from Pasi and his company Gemgrade Mining Company (Private) Limited.

The bank also cited businessmen Collin Cephas Mtangi, Edworks Edward Mhandu and Samuel Mukoka as respondents.

According to court papers seen by the Daily News on Sunday filed under case number HC10246/13, the loan facility gave Pasi leeway to borrow up to $5 million.

He, however, contends in his opposing affidavit that he only managed to get $1,5 million and could not get the other $3,5 million, because the bank was placed under curatorship. Pasi, who has adopted more rigorous methodologies in terms of tax collection, crossing sword with several companies, opposed the bank’s claims. In his affidavit, he associated himself with contents of submissions made by the company’s general manager Tichaona George Pasi.

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Tichaona claims in court papers that the diamond cutting and polishing company began operations in March 2011 after securing a $5 million loan from Interfin.

“The facility largely financed the purchase of equipment, factory modifications and other costs related to setting up operations,” Tichaona claims in his court papers.

“Citing a number of irregularities in the industry, the ministry of Mines and Mining Development suspended the operations of all players in the diamond cutting and polishing industry in June 2011.”
He said due to the cancellation of the licence, the company could not procure, process or sell any of its stocks of diamonds, which affected operations.

He further told the court that the company only managed to resume its operations in May 2012, after renewing its licence in April of the same year.

“During this period, Interfin Bank began experiencing liquidity challenges which eventually culminated in its placement under curatorship in June 2012,” Tichaona said.

“The aforementioned placement of Interfin Bank under curatorship effectively meant that the first defendant (Gemgrade Mining Company (Private) Limited) could not fully draw down on the loan facility that it had secured from Interfin.” He claims the company only managed to draw down $1,5 million before interest and arrangement fees, money which was mainly used for start-up requirements.

“Interfin failed to support first defendant in providing additional working capital that was required for production purposes, for instance, the procurement of rough diamond stocks,” Tichaona said.

The Zimra boss supported Tichaona’s averments, claiming the bank is the one that defaulted in its obligations.

“I further particularly deny that the notarial bond relied upon by the plaintiff constitutes a liquid document for the purpose of granting summary relief,” Pasi said. Daily News