A BULAWAYO couple has appeared in court charged with theft and money-laundering involving $500 000. They allegedly committed the offence through their EcoCash agent line which they hired out to a business operator in the city.

Fredrick Topia (40) and his wife Nyarai Magaya (32) denied the charge when they appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Lizwe Jamela on Thursday.

They were remanded out of custody to January 31.

The court was told that on an unknown date last year, Topia and Magaya registered a company, Fredloui (Pvt) Limited, for which they are co-directors and acquired an EcoCash agent line registered under the name Fredloui Investments (Pvt) Ltd.

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In October 2019, the couple allegedly enlisted the services of one Peter Grassmore Mare, who is still at large, to look for a person who would use the agent line.

Mare went on to hire out the line to Moses Matsveru, although it was registered in the couple’s company name.

On November 29, 2019, Matsveru received a payment of $500 000 into his bank account. He then instructed his bank to transfer the money to the EcoCash agent line.

On the same date, Topia and Magaya blocked and replaced the EcoCash agent line, thus effectively denying Matsveru access to his money.

The court heard that the couple later met Mare in the central business district and transferred the money from the agent line in question to two EcoCash agent lines.

Topia and Magaya then went on to convert the $500 000 to US$20 210, which they later allegedly shared with Mare.

When Matsveru discovered the scam, he reported the matter to the police, leading to the couple’s arrest.