Diamond company boss up for tender fraud, freed on $2 000 bail

By Mary Taruvinga

Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZMDC) chief executive officer Morris Mpofu was Wednesday dragged to court on allegations of recommending a blacklisted convict to buy diamonds from government’s Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ).

Mpofu appeared before Harare magistrate Barbra Mateko who released him on $2 000 bail.

He was also ordered to surrender his passport and to report twice at the police as part of his bail conditions.

Mpofu is facing criminal abuse of office charges.

It is State’s case that Mpofu allegedly recommended Robai Hussein and Youseff Osseily who were blacklisted under the Kimberly Certification Scheme following their arrest on October 20, 2008.

Hussein and Osseily were arrested in India where they were caught smuggling 3 605.73 carats of rough Zimbabwean diamonds valued at about US$900 000.

Court heard the duo served four years in jail for the smuggling offence before being deported back to their countries of origin by the Indian government upon release.

Prosecutors allege that “on May 18, a meeting was convened between ZDIAM Private Ltd represented by its director Hussein and ZCDC representatives.”

It is alleged that on March 26 this year, Hussein attended a diamond tender at MMCZ representing a Lebanese Company, Diamond Cut where he bought three diamond parcels weighing 358.58 carats for US$258 224.66.

“Sometime in March this year, Mpofu, in the exercise of his duties, recommended Hussein to be allowed to buy diamonds from Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe knowing that he was blacklisted from dealing in diamonds,” read court papers.

It is the State’s case that Mpofu had no right to recommend Hussein who has a criminal record relating to smuggling of diamonds.