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Lebanese nabbed for $3m fraud

By Tendai Rupapa

A Gweru businessman Taleb Mohamad yesterday appeared before a Harare magistrate on allegations of swindling a business partner of more than $3 million in a mining deal.

Mohamad (53), a Lebanese, is the director of Acquirium Trading (Pvt) Ltd.

He appeared before Ms Barbra Chimboza charged with fraud.

Mohamad is being accused of converting $3 515 000, funds injected into the company for a mining joint venture by a partner, Tamira Overseas, to his personal use.

However, Mohamad through his lawyer Mr Alec Muchadehama of Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni, had no kind words for the police, accusing them of re-arresting him on a charge he was acquitted of in 2015.

Mr Muchadehama said, “Your Worship, we have complaints against the police over unlawful arrest. My client was unlawfully arrested,” he said.

“My client was arrested in 2015 for theft of trust property and was tried and acquitted in Gweru. The police have now re-arrested him on the same allegations and circumstances and changed the charge to fraud.

“Again the first accused, Aquirium Trading Private Limited is currently under judicial management and Mohamad is a shareholder, but he has no capacity to represent the company given that it is under judicial management.”

Mohamad was released on $200 bail with the State’s consent.

He was remanded to 28 March and as part of his bail conditions, he was ordered to surrender his passport.

Prosecuting Miss Audrey Chogumaira, alleged that sometime in September 2012, Mohamad representing his company, approached Tamira Overseas represented by Varenko Nikolai, which was looking for investments opportunities in Zimbabwe.

Mohamad reportedly requested for $400 000 loan from Tamira Overseas, which he indicated was for the development and operational costs for a mine called Malaya 30, which he said was owned by Aquirium Trading Private Limited.

Tamira Overseas then paid the money, it is alleged.

It is the State’s case that Mohamad converted the money to other uses, which he had not agreed with Tamira officials.

In a bid to cover up for the offence, Mohamad, the court heard, gave several false updates to Tamira through emails misrepresenting that he was making progress at the mine.

On May 6 2014, Tamira Overseas is said to have given Mohamad another loan of $400 000.

During the same period, Mohamad misrepresented to the complainant that he was selling 48 shares from his 60 shares in the company for $715 000, the State alleged.

He promised the complainant that he would process all the relevant documents so that the complainant would become a shareholder in Aquirium Trading Private Limited.

As a result of the misrepresentation, the complainant entered into a share purchase agreement with Mohamad and paid the $715 000.

The accused further requested the complainant to inject $2 000 000 into Aquirium Trading Private Limited as investment but nothing materialised. The Herald