THE Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has upped the ante against corruption, suspending at least 36 officers implicated in lifestyle audits while processes are underway at the High Court to forfeit ill-gotten wealth.
Zimra Commissioner General Mrs Faith Mazani said the taxman was working with the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) who are handling cases where internal investigations would have pointed to corruption.
Com Gen Mazani said Zimra was not only targeting its staff but the investigations also cover some taxpayers whose incomes will be questionable.
“Between January and June this year, a total of 36 officers were suspended pending investigation following lifestyle audits.
“Where criminality is detected, we hand over the cases to the police or other investigating arms,” she said.
“Already processes are underway to recover ill-gotten wealth,” she said.
Com Gen Mazani said lifestyle audits carried out in terms of the Zimra code of conduct revealed unjustified wealth.
“We have a code of conduct which is applicable to our staff. One of the things that we did was to carry out lifestyle audits.
“Where we feel they have assets beyond the income that we are aware of, we then ask them to explain the source of the income.
“That is when we found out quite a number of cases where our officers are building houses, going on holidays and buying cars beyond their expected lifestyles,” he said.
Com Gen Mazani said the asset forfeiture which was being done in terms of the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act would not spare corrupt tax-payers.
“We are doing the same thing with taxpayers. When we approach taxpayers, we look at their assets and we ask them to explain how they acquired them and the sources of their income.
“We discovered that people were getting lots of income without declaring it,” she said.
Meanwhile, Zimra, through the National Prosecuting Authority’s Assets Forfeiture Unit, has since applied to forfeit mansions purchased by its former accounting officer Tapuwa Evans Chidemo.
Chidemo reportedly siphoned US$1 239 083 from the taxman’s bank account and splashed it on property.
He risks losing two mansions in Glen Lorne, Harare, a flat in Harare city centre and a top-of-the-range vehicle.
The State wants to forfeit the following properties:
Number 215 Folyjon Crescent, Glen Lorne.
Number 3036 Shawasha Hills, Glen Lorne.
Flat 19, Derwent Lodge, No. 9 Josiah Chinamano Avenue, Harare.
Stand Number 2800, 12th Parklane Court (Pvt) Ltd.
Mercedes-Benz E-Class (ADN 5756)
Another ex-Zimra officer, Kennedy Nyatoti is in trouble after it emerged that his lifestyle did not match his earnings as a revenue officer.
NPA has since approached the High Court seeking to have his suspected unlawfully acquired assets and wealth forfeited to the State.
It is alleged that Nyatoti was employed by Zimra for only two years but he managed to buy an expensive stand in the upmarket Mabvazuva suburb and managed to build a world class house, all worth over US$150 000, yet his total earnings for the period he served as a revenue officer is around US$44 000.
Nyatoti is also said to have bought vehicles for his wife, Tatenda Chisadza who was cited as the Second Respondent in the court application, his sister, Portia Nyatoti and his mother using State funds.
The State is also working on another application to forfeit suspected ill-gotten assets worth $762 000 from a couple formerly employed by Zimra.
The couple — Tapfumaneyi Zunguza and his wife Cathrine Laji — were employed by Zimra as revenue supervisor and revenue officer, respectively.
The State questioned the couple’s acquisition of residential stands number 3807 and 3808 in Mainway Meadows, Waterfalls, Harare in 2009.
During the same year, they bought another stand in Helensvale measuring 2 200m2 and construction commenced in 2011 and was completed in 2013.
They also bought a Mazda BT50 twin cab for $40 000, but as per requirement with their employer, they were supposed to declare the assets from time to time.
According to NPA, during the time which the couple acquired the property, their lawful income amounted to $60 053,13 collectively.