Parastatals embroiled in car smuggling scandal

BY FIDELITY MHLANGA

STATE-OWNED entities, Zimbabwe Special Economic Zones Authority (Zimseza), Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) are embroiled in a messy car import scam after details emerged that they took delivery of luxury vehicles supplied by local car dealer, Solutions Motors which illicitly imported the vehicles without paying customs duty.

Sources told NewsDay that both Zimseza and FPR were supplied with Toyota Hilux vehicles by the car dealer who contravened the Customs and Excise Act by not paying duty at the border post.

The shenanigans came to light after a blitz by Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) unearthed the manipulation of customs clearance certificates in a dragnet that has already claimed the scalps of several customs officials.

NewsDay Business is reliably informed that the police commercial crime division is investigating the matter under case number 726/11/19.

Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi could neither confirm nor deny when contacted for comment.” My guys are checking on the issue. They will call you,” he said curtly.

Zimseza CEO Edwin Kondo admitted the company took delivery of fraudulently imported vehicles from Solutions Motors.“However, please note that Zimseza is co-operating fully with Zimra and the ZRP. You can call them to verify. Further, the importer of the vehicles was our local supplier, Solutions Motors. We were clear that we were buying cars from them as a local supplier and the process of getting them in the country, including payment of duty, is with them,” Kondo said.

“Kindly call Solutions Motors for detailed responses on the way they handled the transactions. On our part, we are pressing the supplier to honour the laws of the country and honour whatever statutory payments that need to be done. We understand some duty payments have already been done. We are innocent victims in the whole case, as we need the vehicles for operational purposes. As Zimseza, we fully abide by the laws of the country on a strict basis.”

Solutions Motors managing director Patrick Siyawamwaya was not reachable for comment. He did not respond to text messages sent to him.FPR chief executive Fredrick Kunaka was evasive when reached for comment.

“I will not be able to say you are correct because ordinarily if a vehicle is registered. I wouldn’t tell if duty was paid or not. That I wouldn’t be aware, I would not be able to say whether what you saying is correct,” he said.

The car import scandal has prejudiced Zimra of millions of dollars in potential revenue as car dealers, individuals, corporates worked in cahoots with the tax authority officials to illicitly import luxury vehicles that include Toyota Fortuners, Land Cruisers, Mercedes Benz, Ford Rangers and Toyota Corollas.

The syndicate, which includes Zimra officers, was taking advantage of the taxman’s manual system to manipulate the customs clearance certificate to under-declare vehicles at all the country’s ports of entry.

Zimra over the weekend released a list of 433 vehicles detailing registration numbers, chassis numbers, vehicle type and owner’s name in a vehicle verification exercise on cars suspected to have been smuggled.

“The commissioner-general of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority is hereby notifying the owners of vehicles listed below to visit Zimra loss control offices at ZB Centre in Harare for a vehicle registration verification. The vehicle owners are instructed to bring all customs clearance documents pertaining to their vehicles not later than November 23, 2019,” Zimra said in a notice.

Efforts to get a comment from Zimra were fruitless at the time of going to print.