June 04 2017 – FORMER Zimbabwe Revenue Authority Commissioner-General Gershem Pasi who recently resigned after being suspended over 45 charges of misconduct will not walk free as the authority will press criminal charges against him.
Zimra board chair Willia Bonyongwe says hat serious allegations of corruption will be pursued despite Pasi’s resignation, on May 22, 2017, citing irretrievably broken down relations with Zimra.
“In terms of what action the board will take against (Mr Pasi), the answer is nothing apart from the normal termination procedure. But that is not to say the charges will be ignored. I must emphasise that the board has not negotiated any exit package with the Commissioner-General,” says Bonyongwe.
“However, both the board and Ministry of Finance and Economic Development are in agreement that the charges which are of a criminal nature will not be washed away. Any charges relating to corruption, abuse of office or anything of a criminal nature will be pursued through the relevant state authorities.”
“Mr Pasi was going through a disciplinary hearing. You are aware that when he was charged, he contested a number of issues, including the authority of the board to charge him and the code under which he was charged. He also contested the audit process (in fact, he refused to cooperate with the forensic auditors) and contested the audit report itself,” she adds.
“He claimed that the board chair (Mrs Bonyongwe) was pursuing him out of malice. The High Court did not agree with him and ruled that the suspension, audit process and the hearing process was lawful and that he should defend himself.
“The process started end of October 2016. Mr Pasi decided to resign with immediate effect on May 22, 2017 before the process was completed. Legally, this terminated the process because the board cannot discipline one who is not its employee. This was unfortunate because it would have been an opportunity to clarify issues and to have him clear his name.”
A forensic audit by HLB Chartered Accountants linked Mr Pasi to corruption bordering on fraud, tax evasion, poor corporate governance, which prejudiced Zimra of over US$20 million.
Mr Pasi is accused of flouting tender regulations after signing a US$14 million contract with AVIC International for the supply of uniforms and tollgate equipment outside procurement procedures. The former Zimra boss also allegedly allocated himself US$374 451 in vehicle allowances between 2014 and May 2016 without board approval.
Further, he reportedly received “excessive” holiday and other “unexplained” allowances amounting to over US$320 000, and was allegedly involved in a vehicle import scam.
Zimra is also probing senior officials Robert Mangwiro, Shadreck Dimingo, MrTruenia Dimingo and Tjiyapo Velempini over the vehicle case.
Pasi, however, denied any wrong-doing even as he resigned with part of his resignation reads, saying : “My employer has without just or lawful cause preferred unfounded charges against me. The charges ring hollow being based as they are upon an incompetent audit report prepared by auditors, who abdicated their most basic functions and responsibilities.”
Bonyongwe, says that hearings on the suspended officials were almost finished.
“Two are at appeal stage. The ones which were behind related to the Commissioner-General (Pasi) and to Mr T Velempini, the Director ICT and Infrastructure,” she says.
“The latter is still at its early stages and the one for the Commissioner-General was terminated by the employee. Zimra is currently being run by acting officers, and we expect that the hearings will be finalised over the next two months and that we should be able to fill any vacant posts for the organisation to move on.” – Sunday Mail