A court in Zimbabwe has convicted two top Air Zimbabwe executives for defrauding the state airline of over $10 million in an aviation insurance scam.
Former Air Zimbabwe Chief Executive Officer, Peter Chikumba and Company Secretary Grace Pfumbidzayi were jointly charged in the fraud case. The co-conspirators appointed Navistar Insurance Brokers as the airline’s insurance company and used the company to siphon millions of dollars.
Harare Magistrate Fadzai Mthombeni yesterday found both officials guilty, noting that Chikumba lied to the court and tried to distance himself from the offence by accusing Pfumbidzayi of acting unilaterally in appointing Navistar Insurance Brokers as the airline’s insurer. This contravenes the company’s recruitment policy. Pfumbidzayi’s evidence however, showed that Chikumba was privy to all the stages leading to Navistar’s appointment.
Pfumbidzayi and Chikumba were also accused of inflating aviation insurance premiums in payments made to Colemont Reinsurance Brokers Limited and Reinsurance Brokers Limited, both United Kingdom-based companies.
Upon the judge’s pronouncements, Pfumbidzayi was left in tears, saying whatever she did was in good faith. “I have served Air Zimbabwe for 30 years and have never been charged of incompetence or any offence during this time,” she said.
Mthombeni is expected to sentence the two former Air Zimbabwe bosses today or Monday. The two officials could face up to 15 years behind bars.
By George Mpofu