Drama as CID team investigating ED ally arrested. Alleged Covid-19 procurement corruption mastermind Delish Nguwaya could walk free after criminal proceedings against him all but collapsed on Tuesday when a court removed him from remand.
Magistrate Ngoni Nduna said prosecutors had failed to provide cogent reasons why the Drax International country representative, an associate of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s twin sons Shaun and Collins, should be further remanded to January 29 next year.
Prosecutors will now proceed by way of summons, but lawyers say cases rarely get revived after a suspect is removed from remand.
Nguwaya’s company was irregularly awarded Covid-19 supply contracts worth over US$60 million after the sacked former health minister Obadiah Moyo leaned on officials to sign off on the contracts, which the ministry of finance later admitted carried inflated prices.
The 36-year-old had already appeared 10 times in court charged with two counts of fraud, but prosecutors repeatedly indicated that they needed to conduct extra-territorial investigations.
ZimLive revealed in April how Drax International, which was not on a Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe list of approved government suppliers, won itself huge contracts to supply drugs and medical devices to NatPharm, the state-owned pharmaceutical company. The contracts were not subjected to a tender process.
The company also won tenders as Papi Pharma and Drax SAGL. Nguwaya and Albanian national Ilir Dedja were behind the three companies, which have bank accounts in Hungary and the Seychelles.
Hungary froze a US$2 million payment which landed in the bank account of Drax International, just two weeks after the company was registered in the central European country. Interpol was activated, which in turn contacted the Zimbabwe Republic Police which responded by arresting Nguwaya, Moyo and NatPharm executives while issuing an arrest warrant for Dedja.
But even as the arrests were being made, Zimbabweans questioned whether there was a commitment to successfully prosecute Nguwaya, who has been a guest of the Mnangagwas at dinner parties and joined first lady Auxillia Mnangagwa on a trip to China.
Those doubts were only heightened when a systematic purge was unleashed, targeting all the police officers involved in the Drax investigation.
Investigating officer Superintendent Naboth Nyachega, who was also the liaison person with Interpol, was arrested by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) in July and charged with criminal abuse of office and bribery over claims he was given a housing stand by corrupt Harare City Council officials to induce him to abandon a corruption probe into the allocation of housing stands worth US$1 million in Kuwadzana suburb.
His boss, Assistant Commissioner Obeylaw Moyo, who okayed Nguwaya’s arrest, was also arrested on similar charges. Moyo was in charge of the Criminal Investigations Department’s Commercial Crimes Unit, which headed the investigation into Drax.
Police sources told ZimLive that days after the CID arrested Nguwaya in June, a team of detectives led by Moyo were summoned to a meeting with the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission chairperson Loice Matanda-Moyo who was reportedly “upset”.
“They wanted to arrest Nguwaya in a certain way,” a CID detective familiar with the investigation said. “Nguwaya even challenged us on why we were arresting him when he had already made concessions with ZACC on how and when they were to arrest him. Matanda-Moyo gave us a third degree on why we had arrested Nguwaya. It was hell.”
ZACC spokesman John Makamure insisted “such a meeting never took place”, adding: “There is no conflict between ZACC and ZRP.”
Police investigators believe the arrest of Nyachega in particular, followed by his suspension, severely handicapped the investigation.
Nyachega, ZimLive understands, had written to Interpol to hold onto the US$2 million paid into the bank account in Hungary.
“To get the money in Hungary released, two things had to happen. The police officers heading the investigation had to be shunted out of the way so that Interpol is given a new liaison, and Nguwaya had to beat the charges. Both processes have happened and nothing stops them now from withdrawing that money,” a senior police source said.
Nguwaya told this website he had no hand in the arrest of the two officers.
He protested: “Why can’t you just leave me alone? What have I done against you? You seriously cannot blame me for the arrests of police officers over corruption relating to housing stands. I have no authority to direct arrests.”
Source – Bulawayo24