HomeLocal NewsMassive Zimra corruption exposed

Massive Zimra corruption exposed

HEADS are expected to roll at the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) as the tax collector has completed a forensic audit that exposes massive corruption and fraudulent conduct by top executives.

By Wongai Zhangazha

Zimra chair Willia Bonyongwe
Zimra chair Willia Bonyongwe

A statement detailing major findings of the audit is expected to be released today.
The forensic audit report, compiled by HLB Ruzengwe, has been submitted to Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa for examination and presentation to the government before being publicised.

The Zimra board commissioned the audit in May after sending Commissioner-General Gershem Pasi and five other senior executives on paid leave after questions were raised over the importation of vehicles.

Executives sent on forced leave include loss control director Charlton Chihuri, Anna Mutombodzi (commissioner customs and excise), Tjiyapo Velempini (director ICT and infrastructural development), Charles Manjengwa (director internal audit) and Sithokozile Thembani (director human resources).

Findings of the audit are coming at a time the government’s revenue collector is losing millions of dollars to wheeler-dealers who process counterfeit undervalued import documents to smuggle vehicles into Zimbabwe.

Questions have also been raised on Zimra’s procurement processes and financial affairs.

According to sources, the audit has unearthed irregularities regarding the revenue collector’s vehicle loan scheme and the importation of cars by the five executives, executive perquisites, salaries, loans to senior management, staff secondment and the procurement of goods and services, among others.

Sources said the audit findings seem to suggest that Pasi could have been complicit either by From Page 1
acts of commission or omission, or both. He is thus in the firing line.

Efforts to get a comment from Zimra board chairperson Willia Bonyongwe yesterday were fruitless as she was not reachable throughout the day.

“The audit mentions a number of issues that expose the breaking of the law. Obviously the Customs Act was breached when the five executives imported those vehicles.

“The Act is clear that the responsibility lies with the owners and the blame cannot be apportioned on the agents alone,” said a source who preferred anonymity.

“The executives drove those cars for more than four months without realising that the correct duty was not paid, it’s very unlikely. The audit questioned the use of disreputable agents contrary to an internal vehicle policy. For these months no one acted on the executives and the irregularities.”

The audit is said to also question payments made to former Zimra director for human resources and administration, Christine Msemburi, who was seconded to the World Customs Organisation. The audit also questioned her tax payments to the revenue body.

Among the findings is fraud and falsification of academic qualifications by Chihuri. Zimra has since opened a fraud case (CR 2151 /09 /16) at Harare Central Police Station.

Chihuri is accused of allegedly misrepresenting to Zimra that he holds a degree in economics from the University of Zimbabwe yet he does not hold such a qualification.

Zimra also contracted chartered accountants Deloitte and Touché to carry out an audit into suspected impropriety in the awarding of information communication technology (ICT) contracts at Zimra.

The source said the audit covering ICT systems and procurement is expected to be completed in the next two weeks.

Auditors had also been tasked to look into possible misconduct in the procurement for services and equipment, including renovations carried out at Zimra’s Kurima House offices in Harare.

The audits are expected to also cover the procurement of uniforms, asycuda (automated system for customs data) validation system and the construction of Chirundu Border Post.

The forensic audits cover the period January 2014 to August this year.

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