PSMAS bosses appear in court for US$700k theft in botched gold deal

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By Mary Taruvinga

PREMIER Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) bosses were Thursday dragged to court following their arrest on allegations of stealing US$702 386 in a bogus gold deal.

The accused are PSMAS CEO Farai Muchena (54), Victor Chaipa (49), group Strategy Performance Executive, group secretary Cosmas Mukwesha (50) and Polite Mugwagwa (41) the performance manager.

They appeared before Harare magistrate Stanford Mambanje who remanded them in custody to this Friday for bail hearing.

According to the State, in 2020, the PSMAS board, with the objective of generating foreign currency to procure pharmaceutical drugs and medical equipment passed a resolution that its management will venture into buying and selling of gold.

Court papers show that staff members from the Procurement department were to act as buyers and agents, buying gold on behalf of the Society.

PSMAS had other investment projects involving cannabis growing and Micro Finance business.

“On February 18, 2021, PSMAS acting on the Board resolution, handed over these projects of gold buying, cannabis growing and Micro Finance business to Premier Service Holding Company to enable themselves to focus on their core business of Health insurance,” reads court papers.

On July 13, 2021, Muchena sent a memo to complainant’s principal officer requesting funding for the gold project which had been taken over from PSMAS.

The funding request amounted to US$237,794 with US$108,674 as pre trading funding.

Muchena also advised PSMAS about the formation of a company styled Claydust solely for the buying and selling of gold to Fidelity.

In response, complainant disposed of its Zimbabwe Bank (ZB) shares totalling to 65 9643 valued at US$ 38 000-00 solely for the funding of the gold project.

Thereafter, and with the intention of stealing money from the complainant, the accused persons acting in consent diverted from the initially agreed position of using complainant’s procurement team in buying the gold on behalf of the Society.

Between 2019 and  2022 accused persons received gold from five of 18 private agencies which they sold to Fidelity for a total of US $ 702 386.80 saying they needed hard cash for the purchase of drugs and pharmaceuticals.

They then allegedly diverted the funds to personal use.

It is alleged that during the period in question PSMAS realised that the Society was not benefiting from the gold buying project as no drugs and pharmaceuticals were procured for PSMAS hospitals and clinics despite records indicating that gold was sold.

Subsequently, PSMAS engaged an external auditor, RBM Auditors to carry out a forensic sit covering the period in question.

An audit was then conducted which unearthed that the accused persons received and converted all the proceeds to own use.