HomeBusiness DigestKuruneri case builds up

Kuruneri case builds up

Godfrey Marawanyika

FORMER Finance minister Christopher Kuruneri was paid 22 million pesetas (2,9 million euros) for the consultancy work he did for the Spain-based Solano family.

ONT face=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>According to a court document provided by the state on Tuesday, Kuruneri was paid the money for “carrying out feasibility studies on agricultural machinery and preservation”.

The document, which is part of the state evidence, was authored by one Felipe Solano, who stated that they no longer had documents of their commercial dealings with the embattled former minister because under Spanish law, documents can only be kept for a period of five years from the date of transaction.

The document was translated from Spanish into English by Lovemore Gwati, a translator employed by the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education.

“That (sic) we paid him a lot of money for his services, approximately an equivalent of 22 million pesetas. That we paid him in different countries, Canada, Colombia, Venezuela, Algeria and Paris and other possible places which I may not remember,” Solano said.

“That we have no knowledge of any journeys made by the accused to South Africa. That we have no documentation in place relating to commercial relations we had with the accused as so many years have passed.”

Charges against Kuruneri arose between March 2002 and March 2004 last year after he externalised US$500 000, £37 000, 30 000 euros and R1,2 million to South Africa.

It is the state case that the money was used to buy properties in South Africa.

Kuruneri has already been convicted of holding a Canadian passport and six counts of externalising foreign currency without permission from the Exchange Control Authority.

Kuruneri has however denied any wrongdoing.

Solano said Kuruneri initially used to deal with his late uncle Jose Solano Fernandez and his brother Luis Solano.

Fernandez was a shareholder in the Talleres Fillipe Solano Ruano SL Company. Solano said that their “company stopped doing business with the accused more than 14 to 16 years ago”.

It is the State case that between January 2002 and April 2004 Kuruneri siphoned different amounts of foreign currency in hard cash from Zimbabwe to South Africa.

The state alleges that the bulk of the foreign currency was moved by the accused in hard cash and used to buy three immovable properties in Llandudno, Cape Town, South Africa.

The third property is located in the Cape Town suburb of Ocean View. The trial is also set to suck in central bank governor Gideon Gono as one of the key State witnesses.

Solano said they paid Kuruneri in different currencies which included pounds and United States dollars.

The trial entered its second week this week and is expected to continue next week.

On Wednesday the High Court was told that Gono, a former chief executive officer of the Commercial bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ), authorised the deposit of US$500 000 in the bank’s Suspense Account before it was changed to rands and transferred to South Africa..

After the deposit was made, the money was converted to R1,2 million and the beneficiary was Kuruneri.

State witness Oliver Sigauke, an employee of the CBZ treasury division, told the High Court that the transaction appeared to be unusual and raised curiosity.

“A few days after the deposit to the Suspense Account, I was told to transfer R5,2 million per details he provided,” Sigauke said.

“He (Gono) asked me to transfer R5,2 milliion being equivalent to the US$500 000 we had received. He went on to give me banking details of the beneficiary and some additional details that were to be provided on the telegraphic transfer. My curiosity was quashed and quenched in knowing that the ordering customer was Dr Kuruneri.”

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