Zim-UK convicted fraudster implicated in US$5.8 million Cottco money laundering
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ally Gutai Lisa-Marie Maropafadzo has been implicated in the money laundering of US$5, 8 million funds belonging to a government company, Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco).
At the centre of the multi-million fraud is Zanu-PF Gokwe-Nembudziya MP Justice Mayor Wadyajena and four others. They have since been granted bail after their arrest by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) on Tuesday last week.
In the alleged scandal, Maropafadzo, (formerly Gutai Lisa-Marie Mutuke until 2020), and her company Maropafadzo Energy (Pvt) was allegedly paid at least US$2 million by March this year.
“On the 8 of March 2022 and 14 March 2022 two further payments were processed from Cottco’s CABS Account No.1125257148 of USD450,000.00 (to Maropafadzo Energy Pvt Ltd CBZ Bank Account No. 02925639340021) and USD1,000,000 (to Maropafadzo Energy (Pvt) Ltd Ecobank Account No. 5783600043224) respectively as requested by the supplier through Procurement for Order No 124889. A total of USD2 200 000-00 has been paid against the order of USD4 578 078-50,” read part of the charge sheet.
According to the NewsHawks, Maropafadzo lived in Britain for 22 years and only came back after Mnangagwa took over power through a military coup in 2017.
It is further alleged that she changed her name in 2020 after her return, suggesting she wanted to hide her fraud record in the UK.
In 2015, she was convicted of defrauding a high street retailer John Lewis, a brand of high-end department shops in the UK, out of more than £2 000 in 2013/2014 over a period of nine months and was handed a suspended prison sentence.
She pleaded guilty and was sentenced at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court.
A video of Maropafadzo showing off her luxurious house circulated on social media.
Investigative journalist Hopewell Chin’ono commented about the involvement of Maropafadzo in the scandal.
“A Zimbabwean convicted fraudster in the UK went to Zimbabwe, and her company was used to launder part of the money, US$5.8 million, looted by Zanu-PF crooked MP Justice Mayor Wadyajena from a State Owned Company.
“In this video she shows off her apartment, yet hospitals have no paracetamol.
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“They then go around telling young people to hustle yet their “hustle” is the criminality of stealing public money meant to provide water, healthcare and books for ordinary people!
“They get protection from associating with Zanu-PF. Most people involved in the looting of public funds are in Zanu-PF directly or indirectly.
“They seek and get political protection from going to jail for their looting and corrupt activities by associating with Zanu-PF,” he said.
Wadyajena was apprehended together with Cottco managing director Pius Manamike, head of marketing, operations, ginning and logistics, Maxmore Njanji and Procurement Specialist Fortunate Molai, and Pierpont Moncroix Director Chiedza Danha on suspicion that they laundered more than US$5,8 million and “created empires or big spheres of influence” using their alleged loot.
Authorities seized the legislator’s posh cars and 22 trucks in connection with the fraud.