ZIMBABWEAN police say they have dropped all criminal investigations against business tycoon, Frank Buyanga, after he was forced to temporarily flee to South Africa, although reports suggests that Grace Mugabe ordered the charges to be dropped.
Dubbed a “loan shark” by Tendai Biti, Zimbabwe’s then Finance Minister in 2013, Buyanga exiled himself after powerful Zanu-PF figures who owed his Hamilton Finance hundreds of thousands of dollars pressured police to arrest him on alleged fraud charges.It is alleged that his contacts in ZAOGA church played a role in his discharge.
He faced a litany of other allegations including theft, forgery and money laundering after dozens of people who owed money to his companies lost their houses which they had put down as surety in order to access money.
Buyanga – who counts South African President Jacob Zuma, former Malawian President Bakili Muluzi and Equatorial Guinea strongman Obiang Nguema among his friends – always insisted he was a legitimate businessman and filed papers in court accusing the police of a “smear campaign”.
Now the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), still struggling to find evidence of the alleged fraud, has been forced to drop their four-year investigation into the millionaire businessman with interests in property, insurance and the financial services.
Police chief inspector Joseph Chikandiwa, based at Harare Central Police Station, wrote to the High Court on January 6 this year – on demand from Buyanga’s lawyers – stating that the police were no longer investigating the businessman.
Chief Inspector Chikandiwa said: “I wish for the Honourable Court to know that whereas criminal investigations had been ongoing against Frank Buyanga and his companies, however, such criminal investigations have since been dropped against Frank Buyanga and all his companies.
“There was nothing illegal and or criminal in the affairs and business charges to answer and we are no longer investigating him.”
The ZRP’s admission that its investigation was going nowhere clears the way for Buyanga to pick up the pieces from where he left after he exiled himself in 2011.
Buyanga was recently reported to be negotiating a takeover of Cell Funeral Assurance, also known as Cell Funeral, seeking to challenge the market dominance of Nyaradzo and Doves.
Born in the United Kingdom, Buyanga ran into legal trouble in 2011 when the Attorney General took up the case of 43 individuals who claimed they had their properties seized and title deeds transferred after they defaulted on loans obtained from Buyanga’s Hamilton Finance.
He insisted that the transactions were conducted above board, stating that he had contracts signed with the borrowers which empowered his company – in the event the individuals defaulted – to recover its money by selling the properties put forward as security.
He fled Zimbabwe, he said, because he did not believe he would receive a fair trial, hinting strongly that some ministers with links to the powerful security services were behind his prosecution after they also defaulted.
Although Hamilton Finance was the lender, the agreements typically prescribed that in the event of default, title to the property used as security would transfer to any nominated company from Buyanga’s many business concerns.
Buyanga is famed for his expensive tastes, most illustrated by his car collection. His garage includes nearly a dozen super cars including a Rolls Royce, a Bentley Continental, two Lamborghinis, a BMW X6 and a Mercedes ML.
In 2013, Buyanga crashed his $230,000 Ferrari 458 Italia in Cape Town after failing to negotiate Cape Town’s famous Hospital Bend. He escaped with minor injuries.
Buyanga made his millions selling properties in Europe and Africa, driven by his mentor – the controversial property tycoon Nicholas van Hoogstraten, who reportedly gave him US$20 million to get started.
With the threat of arrest lifted, Buyanga has returned home. He however still spends a lot of time in South Africa, where he owns a pad at the luxury Michelangelo Towers in Sandton which he bought for a reported R5 million.