By Abel Zhakata
Prominent Mutare businessman — Simbarashe Charamba — and his family members who were last week arrested on money laundering charges involving $145 million are now facing related charges involving $5 billion.
Charamba’s wife, Georgina Kabanda, Felix Chikuse and the businessman’s sisters Rudo, Vimbai and Shumirai who constitute the company’s board of directors were nabbed for contravening the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act and the Exchange Control Act.
Following their recent arrest in Mutare, they were taken to Harare and appeared before Harare regional magistrate, Mrs Esthere Chivasa, who denied them bail.
The five were back in court again on Tuesday on similar charges involving $5 billion.
They were asked not to plead when they appeared before Mrs Bainca Makwande, who remanded them in custody to November 25.
The suspects allegedly conducted foreign currency dealings using their supermarkets, Family First Choice and Bailey Charamba Investments.
They are being charged for using an Ecocash agent line to buy foreign currency equivalent to $4 979 643 231,81 in contravention of Section 5(1)(a) of the Exchange Control Act and Section 8(1) of the Money-Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act.
Allegations are that between January and June this year, Simbarashe connived with the other accused persons to commit the crimes.
They used an EcoCash bulky agent line and 40 agent lines to buy foreign currency on the black market.
A total of 11 Family First Choice supermarket employees were instructed by Simbarashe and his accomplices to buy the foreign currency on the parallel market.
The court heard that the money was distributed to 40 different agent lines under Bailey Investments to disguise the illegal transactions.
The State opposed bail on the basis that the accused persons are conducting their business informally and are likely to abscond as they were facing a serious offence which attracts a custodial sentence.
Mr Brighton Pabwe of Venturas and Samkange represented the suspects, while Mr Michael Reza prosecuted. The Manica Post