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Published On: Tue, Dec 30th, 2014

Fuelgate Sucks in Bigwigs

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Senior Government officials, prominent politicians and business people have been implicated in a case in which a local firm reportedly imported 37 million litres of fuel worth millions of dollars for resale on the pretext that it was meant for the Zimbabwe Defense Industries.

Glow Petroleum, which distributed the fuel to its service stations countrywide, is believed to have defrauded the Government of more than $13 million over the past six months by evading customs duty and other charges.

Company director Mr Aaron Chinhara and one of his managers who has not been named, were last week picked for questioning.

Sources close to the investigations said yesterday that the politicians and businesspeople (names supplied) were working with Chinhara, one of the MDC-T rebels who contested the Redcliff seat during the July 31, 2013 harmonised elections as an independent candidate.

As investigations intensify, is has emerged that three of the company’s trucks loaded with fuel were dumped at two service stations in Southerton and along Simon Mazorodze Road in Harare.

Chinhara and some of his managers are assisting police with investigations.

Although finer details of the investigations were not available as of last night, The Herald understands that the net was closing in on some senior Government ministers and other officials in the chain.

Police last week received a tip-off and raided some of the company’s premises in and around the capital.

Police national spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba yesterday said she was yet to receive the report from investigating officers.

ZDI board chairperson Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube, could not be reached on his mobile phone yesterday.

Last week, one of the drivers at the company was allegedly forced to abandon his tanker at a service station in Southerton after he was cornered by detectives.

The driver wanted to offload the fuel when detectives received a tip-off about the consignment.

Several trucks have since been impounded by police after being abandoned by drivers as investigations continue.

The fuel scam came to light following a price war in Gwanda that saw Glow Petroleum selling its fuel at significantly lower prices compared to other service stations whose prices were almost uniform.

Gwanda town has four filling stations that charge more or less the same price.

Petrol costs between $1,50 and $1,54 per litre, while the diesel price ranges from $1,37 to $1,42.

It is reported that trouble started when Glow Petroleum service station sold petrol for $1,46 per litre and diesel at $1,36 per litre.

In one instance it is reported that Glow Petroleum reduced its prices to $1,30 per litre for petrol and $1,18 per litre for diesel as it sought to outdo competitors such as Zuva Petroleum that had begun to slash prices to attract more customers in face of the competition induced by the former’s pricing.

This raised the ire of other operators in the sector who sought to establish how Glow could reduce prices that much given the procurement prices and attendant costs.

It was then allegedly discovered that the firm was clandestinely importing fuel, prompting the police to launch an investigation.

 

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