THE High Court has taken the seizure of 22 trucks owned by Gokwe-Nembudziya legislator Justice Mayor Wadyajena to a higher level after issuing a 30-day order for taking over the fleet pending investigations into allegations of fraud.
The holding of the trucks can be extended under the law as investigations progress and a trial and court dates are set down.
The investigating officer from the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission Victor Masimba can now hang on to the property to prevent it from dissipation until the outcome of Wadyajena and four top Cotton Company of Zimbabwe managers’ fraud trial or the civil action to have the trucks forfeited to the State.
After ZACC obtained the emergency warrant of search and seizure at the magistrates’ courts at the weekend, the National Prosecution Authority on Monday went to the High Court and successfully applied for a property seizure order before Justice Pisirayi Kwenda.
Subsequently, the ZACC investigator was designated as the official to hold onto the trucks.
In terms of the law, a warrant of search and seizure allows the law enforcement agents to enter residential and business prescints for the purpose of identifying and seizing the property for exhibits to use in a criminal trial.
The criminal law may not provide for seizure of properties acquired using ill-gotten proceeds and this is where the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act, comes in. In granting the latest order, Justice Kwenda authorised the ZACC official to enter Mayor Logistics business premises to seize the entire fleet.
“The purpose of this property seizure order is to preserve the said property from dissipation or alienation pending investigations into allegations of fraud and money laundering…,” he said.
In addition to the 22 trucks listed in the court order permitting the seizure granted at the lower court, the same order allows ZACC to hold two luxury cars, a Lamborghini and BMW X6, temporarily held by Beitbridge Border Post authorities last Friday while they were on their way to South Africa.
The five are accused of diverting Cottco funds earmarked for buying bale ties to the trucks now allegedly being used by Wadyajena.
But the trucks and other assets now being sought and seized are more likely to be forfeited to the State in a separate civil application under a law meant to reclaim assets acquired through unlawful activity.
While criminal charges have to be proved beyond reasonable doubt, civil proceedings are decided on the balance of probabilities and the difference has seen assets forfeited even when there is no successful criminal prosecution.
The assets facing seizure are 22 haulage trucks and the two luxury cars allegedly bought with funds diverted from Cottco.
Wadyajena was arrested last week along with four Cottco top executives. The five were arrested on charges of fraud and money laundering involving US$5 million of Cottco money.
Wadyajena and his accomplices were last week granted $200 000 bail each by a Harare regional magistrate, Mr Stanford Mambanje, who also ordered them to surrender the title deeds to their personal properties as surety.
Wadyajena and the Cottco bosses are alleged to have converted money which was meant for the import of bale ties and bought the trucks through Mayor Logistics, where Wadyajena is believed to be a director, and allegedly diverted a second order for ties to energy companies.