Zimbabwe’s largest mobile network operator, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe has been accused of prejudicing the government of up to $300 million between 2009 and 2013. The telecoms giant allegedly connived with corrupt Zimra bosses to evade taxes and eternalise cash. The allegations came from a forensic audit report on Zimra by HLB Zimbabwe Chartered Accountants signed off in October 2016.
Econet allegedly avoided duty by smuggling dutiable goods and falsely declaring them as base station equipment. This was revealed by one of its clearing agents Paul Edwards through a whistleblower letter written to Zimra.
An except of the letter reads:
Our client has instructed us to bring to your attention that in the process of carrying out its business of customs and freight forwarding, it came to discover that Econet Wireless Limited was fraudulently prejudicing the revenue authority of huge sums of money through illegal declarations and fraudulent clearances using a number of clearing agencies, including our client’s Paul Edwards Shipping Company (Private) Limited.
On discovering this, our client approached your organisation with the relevant information and provided documentary and audio evidence which we believe has been useful in collecting revenue from Econet Wireless.
Apart from prejudicing the revenue authorities, Econet Wireless was also illegally externalising foreign currency through over-invoicing using a sister company registered in Mauritius and this matter has been reported to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. We are instructed to inquire from yourselves as to what amount has been recovered from Econet Wireless as our client believes the prejudice for the revenue authority is in excess of three hundred million dollars (US$300 000 000.)
Suspended Zimra Commissioner General Gershem Pasi is also implicated by the auditors.
Econet is alleged to have externalized money through overstating of prices of components it bought from its sister company, Econet Capital in Mauritius.
Econet Wireless executive assistant to the group CEO Mr. Lovemore Nyatsine denied all allegations when questioned by the Sunday Mail.
More: Sunday Mail