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Businessman back in court on fraud charges

Businessman Adam James Hartnack, who appeared in court last Friday on allegations of defrauding the Meteorological Services Department (MSD) of more than US$70 000 meant for national cloud seeding is today expected back in court for continuation of his bail application.

Harare Magistrates Court
Harare Magistrates Court

Hartnack, who is in remand prison, is being jointly charged along with his company Adamair Private Limited on three counts of fraud.

He was not asked to plead to the charges when he appeared before regional magistrate Mr Stanford Mambanje.

The Sate alleges that he misrepresented to the Meteorological Services Department through a flight analysis schedule for the 2018/19 cloud seeding season that there were two aircrafts which were on standby for the programme.

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He allegedly lied that the two aircrafts were in Harare and Bulawayo and were ready to undertake the cloud seeding during the 2018/19 season when there was only one aircraft available while the other was out of the country for maintenance.

The court heard that on November 21, 2018 Hartnack’s company Adamair (Pvt) Limited was awarded a tender for cloud seeding by the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Climate and Rural Settlement.

On December 31, the Ministry of Lands transferred US$400 000 into Adamair’s account as advance payment for the programme.

On February 1, Adamair pulled out one of its aircraft out of the contract and flew it to South Africa for maintenance and it returned on March 3, 2019. During the same period that the aircraft was in South Africa, Hartnack lied that the aircraft was on standby for the cloud seeding programme.

He then charged MSD US$1 600 for standby fees per day and VAT US$240.

Adamair was then paid US$55 200.

On March 4, 2019 Hartnack is also alleged to have misrepresented to the Meteorological Services Department that he had carried out cloud seeding operations in the Northern part of the country for more than three hours and was paid US$1 600 per hour. The Herald