Crooks raid govt fuel, funds via coupons

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STATE-OWNED transport company Central Mechanical Equipment Department (CMED) lost over US$300 000 through a systematic scam involving fuel coupons abused by lubricants clerks and employees from several government ministries between 2010 and December 2013, as well as misappropriation of thousands of dollars in public funds during the hiring of vehicles for the constitutional referendum and the July 31 general elections.

Elias Mambo

Documents seen by the Zimbabwe Independent indicate CMED was prejudiced of fuel coupons worth more than US$150 000 by different civil servants purporting to represent the Office of the President and Cabinet, Ministry of Labour, Department of Roads (Harare), ministries of Agriculture, Science and Technology, Education and former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai’ office.

An ongoing investigation reveals on several occasions forged transfer documents were brought to the CMED head office in Harare and coupons were issued without verification resulting in the loss of fuel worth thousands of dollars.

“A Mr Chidhakwa from the Ministry of Labour and Social Services brought an From Page 1
electronic transfer document of US$12 360. A receipt was issued by Admire Musandu and 10 000 litres of diesel and 15 000 litres of petrol was issued to him,” reads part of the investigation report.

In another incident cited by the report “3 000 litres of diesel and 9 920 litres of petrol were issued to a Mr Mupiwani purporting to have been sent by the Office of the President and Cabinet.”

The report also says Musandu worked with a prison officer who would collect the coupons under fake names and look for clients who wanted them in order to purchase bulk fuel for resale.

The investigation report also reveals 200 litres (a single drum) of petrol meant for Tsvangirai went missing at CMED Buhera on December 24 2009.
“Musandu was assigned to carry 600 litres of petrol to CMED Buhera to be used by Prime Minister Mr Morgan Tsvangirai’s fleet of vehicles over the Christmas holiday,” reads part of the report. Upon checking the following day one of the drums was found empty.

The report also details how CMED lost over US$40 000 meant for the hiring of vehicles for the March 2011 referendum as well as the July 31 general elections voter education programme.

“During the month of April 2013 CMED deposited two separate amounts of US$13 000 and US$133 798 for payment of vehicles hired for the referendum which amounted to US$146 798,” reads the report. “The accused (unnamed) made six cash withdrawals and converted US$32 878 to his personal use.”

CMED managing director Davison Mhaka said all the fraud and theft cases are at the courts so that the accused can be brought to book.

“The fraud was picked up by our audit system and although the cases are still pending at the courts we have also instituted civil proceedings to recover the lost fuel,” Mhaka said.

Mhaka also said “in an effort to reduce loss through theft we are now encouraging our clients to pay cash for the fuel. We no longer circulate large quantities of coupons”.

Recently CMED lost US$3 million in a botched fuel deal which sucked in another government firm Petrotrade and a shadowy Hong Kong fuel supplier.

CMED on March 1 last year paid US$2,7m upfront to First Oil for the supply of three million litres of diesel, which was never delivered.

The payment was done through an offshore account on the strength of two letters from Petrotrade that it had secured the fuel on behalf of First Oil and pledged to deliver to CMED once paid.

Petrotrade never received payment from First Oil.

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