Italian national in court over US$185k fraud; local businessman fleeced in groundnuts deal

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By Erica Jecha

AN Italian National has been taken to court facing two fraud counts after he allegedly duped a local businessman in a botched groundnuts deal.

Maurizio Giannaolo Arezio (49) appeared before Harare regional magistrate Clever Tsikwa and was remanded in custody to Tuesday for bail application.

According to court papers, Arezio and his brother Gabrielle Areziu, who is still at large, approached the unnamed businessman who wanted buyers for his groundnuts two years ago.

They took groundnuts worth US$54,600 promising to pay in March, 2021.

Court heard they did pay and became evasive when the complainant made a follow-up.

It is alleged that between May 2021 and September 30 2022, the same complainant wanted to buy solar panels of the country.

The brothers approached him promising to purchase the panels on his behalf.

This was after giving him assurance that they will clear the outstanding debt.

Court heard they claimed to have funds in their foreign currency accounts.

They lied they would pay for the solar panels in instalments of US$60 000 using their foreign currency accounts in Romania, Dubai, South Africa and China.

“For every instalment made, the complainant would give them US$50 000 cash and retain US$10 000 until the outstanding debt amounting US$54 600 was settled,” said prosecutors.

The complainant agreed.

It is alleged on January 14, the brothers presented a fake proof of payment of US$45 000 showing that they had transferred the money from HSBC Bank China into Raiffeisen Bank, Bucharest Romania.

The complainant released US$45 000 to the two.

On January 17 and 20 the duo produced another fake proof of payment purporting that they had transferred US$20 000 and US$60 000 respectively into the same bank account.

The complainant reimbursed the money as agreed.

On 30 January 2022, complainant discovered that the proof of payments were dubious and tried to engage the brothers to return the money but to no avail.

He then reported the matter leading to Arezio’s arrest.