At least US$700 000 disbursed by the world’s soccer governing body Fifa disappeared from a Zifa account and found its way into private bank accounts of some of the association’s executive members, court documents have revealed.
BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE/XOLISANI NCUBE
Zifa board member responsible for finance Philemon Machana received US$740 000 from the association’s Ecobank nostro account through a company called Conduit Holdings where he was a director at the time the sheriff of the High Court had attached the association’s bank accounts.
Zifa accounts had been garnished over the association’s debt to Daisy Lodge amounting to US$196 000.
It was revealed that some of Zifa’s funds were moved from the association’s bank account into Conduit Holdings while some of it was withdrawn by the association’s general secretary Joseph Mamutse.
Machana claims that he deposited the money back into the Zifa account and the court has demanded to see bank statements confirming the reverse transaction.
Ecobank was dragged to court by Daisy Lodge with the financial institution charged with obstructing the course of justice for allegedly ignoring a court order that had barred Zifa from accessing its funds held by the bank.
According to documents at the Harare Magistrates’ Court in the case against Ecobank, Mamutse admits to have withdrawn US$10 000 from the association’s Ecobank account, but claims that when he made the withdrawal, the funds had not yet been judicially attached.
He said the funds were withdrawn for use by the association. He also claimed that only the association’s funds in their Steward Bank account had been attached.
According to the State outline, on January 24, 2019, the High Court ordered the seizure of Zifa funds held at Ecobank, but this was disregarded.
“On January 24, 2019 and at the High Court of Zimbabwe, Ecobank Borrowdale Sam Levy branch — being represented by Webster Mehlo — and Webster Mehlo or one or both of them unlawfully disregarded a notice of seizure and attachment made on January 22, requiring the accused to transfer the sum of US$196 049,49 held in the Zifa foreign currency accounts with the accused and transferred US$740 270 and a further US$10 000 to Conduit Investments and Mr Mamutse respectively knowing that such accounts held in the name of Zifa by the accused were under judicial attachment,” the State’s case read in part.
The first accused in the matter is Ecobank Sam Levy Borrowdale, represented by Mehlo, the head of corporate security and investigation services.
Mehlo is also the second accused in his official capacity.
Daisy is represented by Yvonne Agatha Mapika.
The matter implicates the bank and Zifa officials of connivance to move the money, which had been garnished and was supposed to be moved into the sheriff’s account for onward transmission to creditors.
This is not the first time Zifa have been accused of engaging in questionable transactions aimed at avoiding paying creditors even when instructed to do so by the courts.
It is also not the first time that Conduit Holdings has been used in dubious transactions — with indications that it was meant to “protect” the funds from creditors who had been raiding the association demanding their dues.
In 2017, Machana admitted that he had received the association’s funds, but would not state how and why his private entity was being used although he went on to say that the amount could be $100 000.
Under former Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa, who lost his post to Felton Kamambo in December last year, the football association engaged in questionable activities that included moving its assets to private individuals linked to him as well as moving the federation’s headquarters to his private property where he was charging about US$72 000 rentals annually.
Chiyangwa forced the secretariat to abandon Zifa headquarters in 2015 after his election, claiming that the premises were haunted due to persistent raids by creditors and moved them to his private offices, where last year he pocketed $72 000 in rentals while the association’s offices in town lay idle.
Furniture used at the offices was hired from Hansporte Investment — a private entity whose directors are Marshal Jonga and one Beatrice Musavengana, all employed by Chiyangwa at his own business.