NetOne Boss, 6 Others Granted ZW$3 000 Bail Each

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

NETONE chief executive Lazarus Muchenje and six of his subordinates were Monday granted ZW$3000 bail each by a Harare magistrate.

The seventh accused, Sharmaine Kadenhe who was once a legal trainee at NetOne, was granted ZW$700 bail.

The accused were also ordered to surrender their passports, not interfere with witnesses, continue residing at given addresses, and report once a week at Harare Central Police Station.

Muchenje is jointly charged with board member Paradzai Chakona; Tawanda Sibanda, interconnection and roaming manager; Tinashe Severa, acting chief finance officer; Darlington Guru, chief technical officer; Spencer Manguwa; Tanyaradzwa Chingombe, acting head legal and Sharmaine Kadenhe, a former legal trainee.

A lawyer representing the accused persons has given notice to challenge the placement on remand of her clients on the next court hearing set for 2 June.

The offences were committed between January last year and January 2020.

In one of the charges, Muchenje, Gutu, and Chingombe are charged with illegally contracting international companies without the approval of the board.

“Accused one, four and six corruptly caused NetOne to enter into a contract with Bankai International Pvt LTD of Mauritius and Brudgevoice INC, a company incorporated under laws of the United States of America to sell NetOne airtime overseas by connecting Bankai to NetOne prepaid platform,” Prosecutor Michael Reza for the State told the court.

He alleged Bankai was given a 20% airtime discount which was above 11% discount the company was giving to other dealers.

It is also alleged Muchenje was getting an illegal housing benefit which saw NetOne losing $363 875.

“Accused 2 represented NetOne as the lessor and Muchenje as the lessee. An arbitrary rental of $1 000 was agreed by the parties although they had been advised by Pam Holding Properties and Kennan Properties that the rentals for the house in question were between US$2 500 and US$3 500.

“As a result of this, Muchenje was enjoying an unjustified housing benefit for the period extending from January 2019 to January 2020 at the expense of NetOne Cellular,” said Reza.

He said Muchenje did not seek board approval again.

Muchenje also allegedly acquired personal security and misrepresented on documentation that the security was roving at NetOne building when the guard provided security only to him.

“The first accused told Lifart Toro, NetOne head revenue assurance that he was being followed by strangers and required personal security,” said the State adding he was not entitled to the arrangement.

Muchenje also allegedly hired top of range vehicles several times from Breakfront Car Hire prejudicing NetOne $225 925.