A Harare Magistrate has jailed businessman Gift Chaapo Madhlalo to 4 years imprisonment for defrauding local bus company Megalink (Pvt) Ltd of $177 000 in a botched bus import deal from China.
The director of GM Financial Solutions will however serve 18 months effective jail time after regional magistrate Noel Mupeiwa suspended 18 months on condition that he restitute Megalink (Private) Limited on or before April 30 next year.
Another 12 months were suspended on condition of good behaviour. Madhlalo was convicted together with his company GM Financial Solutions which was also fined $2000 or risks its properties to be attached if they failed to pay the fine.
Megalink Buses, represented by director Peter Owen Murumbi, is into the business of importing buses from China. The State alleged that sometime in 2015, Madhlalo approached the bus firm and misrepresented that he was an agent for an Israeli company, Polo Trade Finance, and indicated that he had the capacity to source funding and loans of up to $3,5 million.
Madhlalo then offered to assist the Megalink to import Zhongtong buses from China before demanding and received an advance payment of $177 000 as facilitation and commitment fees.
The court was told that due to Madhlalo’s misrepresentation, the complainant, through his supplier Zhongtong Buses (Pvt) Ltd, started shipping arrangements anticipating that the sight letter of credit would go through.
On February 18, 2016 Madhlalo supplied a forged sight letter of credit valued at $3 582 500, which he claimed came from Polo Trade Finance.
The complainant then mailed the concocted letter of credit to his bus supplier in China, who discovered that the copy was fake and not funded.
The court heard that Zhongtong also discovered the finance firm did not exist at the said address. The complainant then engaged Madhlalo who became evasive and relocated from his known address, prompting the complainant to report the matter. Constance Ngombengombe appeared for the State.