Probe nails top tourism official in US$500 000 scam

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A GOVERNMENT-INSTITUTED investigation has nailed the National Employment Council for the Tourism Industry (Necti) general secretary Klodias Hove in an abuse-of-office scandal and financial misconduct involving more than US$500 000, it emerged this week.

ANDREW KUNAMBURA

The probe, conducted by Public Service Ministry senior labour officer, Gaylard Mutsvairo, also implicates Hove in several cases of maladministration.

He allegedly increased his salary several times without the required approval of the board.

The investigation found that Hove bought several vehicles for himself using the council’s money, without board approval.

The probe covered the period between 2012 and June 2019 when Hove led the Necti.

In the first case, the investigator found out that Hove took advantage of the council’s weak financial systems to withdraw over US$37 000 for personal use during the first three months of his employment.

“We noted that the General Secretary (GS) withdrew cash totaling US$30 160 during the period 01 September to 29 December 2012 which is unaccounted for. There is no evidence in the form of payment vouchers or receipts to show how the money was expended. The money could have been misappropriated by Mr. Hove. He further withdrew a total of US$7 650 during the period October 3, 2013 to January 18, 2014. There is no breakdown of what the money was used for,” the investigation report reads.

“Some of the monies withdrawn from petty cash were designated as ‘consultancy’.

“In the majority of cases no documentation was ever produced to justify that the money had been put to productive use.”

Hove also allegedly used Necti funds to repair his personal vehicle before going on to purchase a fleet of cars using the organisation’s money.

“Mr Hove owned a Peugeot 405 with registration number ADV 3491. He brought the vehicle to be serviced by the Necti to the tune of US$2 261, 08. In addition, the engine of the vehicle needed to be replaced as it had developed mechanical faults. He withdrew US$1 100, 00 to purchase the engine from one Venson Moyo. The engine was not delivered nor was any action taken to recover the money,” the report reads.

“There was neither an agreement between the Necti and Mr Hove that this should be the case nor was there a policy or council resolution to that effect. The total prejudice to the Necti amounts to US$3 361 08.

“The GS acknowledges that he used organisational funds for personal use and he submitted that he intended to pay it back. There is no justification as to why the reimbursement has not yet been done.”

The first vehicle bought by Necti, according to the report, was a Toyota Mark II Grande which was bought from a local car dealer for US$4 200 in 2012. The vehicle was never registered under the employment council and there was no council resolution authorising the purchase.

The report further states that the Toyota Mark II Grande was swapped with a Mercedes Benz E320 and a top-up of US$1 500 was paid in instalments in 2013.

This vehicle was then swapped for a newer version of the Mercedes E320, valued at US$3 000 and a top-up of US$5 000 was paid.

The investigator also found out that the vehicle was swapped with a Mercedes Benz S500 and ownership of the vehicle was not changed to Necti. The older vehicle was valued at US$6 000 and a top-up of US$10 000 was paid.
Hove also has a top-of-the-range Mercedes Benz S500 sedan bought by Necti for US$25 600 in November 2016 and sold to him only 10 months later for just US$2 095.

“Another Mercedes-Benz S500 was bought from Japan by Necti for a total cost of US$25 661 and was registered under the Necti registration number AEH 0438 on November 21, 2016. It was a used vehicle. It was transferred to Mr Hove on 30 September 2017 in terms of the Technical Advisory Board Memorandum of Agreement for US$2 095,” the report reads.

Hove is accused of having unilaterally increased his salary from the stipulated US$5 000 per month to US$13 000 per month within a year without approval of the board, thereby prejudicing the organisation of US$77 000.

“Without any council resolution, the General Secretary increased his basic salary from US$5 000 to US$10 000 between May 2017 and September 2018. The effect of this was to increase his gross salary from $6 250 to $13 695 00 per month,” it says.

Efforts to get a comment from Hove were fruitless as his mobile phone was not being answered while he also did not respond to questions sent to him on WhatsApp, although he read the messages.

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