Zimra commissioner general Ms Faith Mazani

TAURAI MANGUDHLA

A lifestyle audit at the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has recovered ZWL$75m in ill-gotten wealth with perpetrators losing their jobs while two culprits are on the run, Business Times learned this week.

This comes after an internal lifestyle audit at the revenue collector laid bare anomalies which some employees failed to explain and account for their wealth.

Further investigations have proved criminal acts and abuse of office in some cases, leading to the seizure and or forfeiture of assets by the State.

Zimra Commissioner General Faith Mazani has turned the heat on perpetrators of corruption under her organisation, inheriting a fight that had been started by her predecessor Gershem Pasi who was forced out of the organisation.

This time around, the net is being cast wide with external
parties who connived with Zimra officers in corrupt activities being
prosecuted. Information at hand shows that the process has started in earnest
and with collaboration from other law enforcement agents and the judiciary.

Zimra yesterday confirmed to the Business Times in emailed responses that due process of recovery had already started with properties, which are proceeds of crime being identified for forfeiture.

“These include houses, motor vehicles, and duties not paid.
The process is expected to be finalised end of June 2020,” Zimra said, adding
“There are legal processes to be followed throughout the process.”

Criminal charges have been laid against the perpetrators of crime. Officers who were involved in the fraudulent activities have been arrested and brought before the courts.

Two other Zimra officers who were implicated in corruption activities have been declared wanted and are still on the run.

Zimra said interdicts and seizure of proceeds of crime were
already underway.

“It is also important to know that external parties who
connived with the ZIMRA officers were also and are still being prosecuted,”
Zimra revealed.

A lifestyle audit is conducted on all Zimra employees including management. Quarterly plans are developed and lifestyle audits are carried out accordingly, Zimra said.

“The scope of the audit covered mainly the customs and excise, domestic taxes and finance and administration divisions,” Zimra disclosed.

There is a collaboration effort by other law enforcement
agents, such as the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission, National Prosecuting
Authority and the Zimbabwe Republic Police. In the course of the
investigations, some Zimra officials were fingered in acts of undervaluation of
duties and were allegedly paid bribes to stop auditing some companies that did
not pay duties.

Some officers have also been at the centre of smuggling
activities and have been accused of working closely with smuggling rings,
building mansions in plush suburbs, and driving latest vehicles which they
cannot afford on their salaries and benefits.

The fight is expected to be extended to other state institutions
including the police and army.

Already, there is a strong push for a similar exercise in
the Prosecutor General and Attorney general’s offices.

Zimbabwe has traditionally performed poorly on the global corruption perception index due to a public sector that is perceived to be very corrupt, demanding bribes and kickbacks to perform their duties. This has made the country among the least preferred investment destinations.

In some instances, investors have been frustrated out of the country. According to a recent Transparency International corruption perception index, Zimbabwe is the 160th least corrupt country, out of 175 countries.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has declared a zero tolerance
to corruption saying there are no sacred cows.

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