HARARE – Harare businessman Bernard Mutanga is due for trial next week after allegedly defrauding an Intermarket Holdings Limited (IHL) subsidiary of Z$4 billion over a Borrowdale property belonging to the Macquire family.
This also comes as the 46 year-old self-styled developer was in August briefly detained for doubling selling another piece of land in the leafy suburb and has been in, and out of the courts for several other cases, including a botched $100 000 diamond deal.
In the IHL case – dating back to 2005 – Mutanga reportedly sold the 30-hectare to First Mortgage Investments (FMI), despite knowing fully well that he had no title or proper claim to a company, which held the property Twairob Investments (Private) Limited (Twairob).
According to the state outline, the Braitwood Institute of Gemology (BIG) founder's theft by false pretences charge arises from the purported sale of a land holding known as Gurlyn Burton A (Gurlyn) or Makomo Farm when the ownership of a shelf company warehousing the property was in dispute.
In the same papers, it was alleged that Mutanga had offered to buy the property from a now deceased pensioner Cecily Jean Frances Macquire in 2003 and went on to change the directorship of Twairob on the basis of tentative or preliminary agreements back then.
“Accused (Mutanga) and… Macquire agreed that before the full purchase price of the property was paid, the accused was supposed to change the property to Twairob… a shelf company Macquire had bought from Petros Johnson and Emma Nasho,” read a police dossier running eight years back.
“Accused paid for capital gains and before he paid the purchase price… he registered Twairob as his,” it said, adding he then caused “the resignation of Johnson and Nasho as directors of the company when they were never directors of the same”.
Despite failing to meet the conditions precedent and leading to the cancellation of the initial agreement – an issue which the accused was amply advised through his lawyers – police investigations established that Mutanga still went on to sale the property.
At the material time, the Criminal Investigations Department (CID)’s serious fraud squad not only satisfied itself that the BIG president purported to be the Gurlyn owner through fabricated company documents, but went on to receive Z$4 billion from FMI’s sister company Intermarket Discount House without Macquire’s knowledge. The property is now worth over $3 million.
Crucially, the police investigations also noted Mutanga had no share certificates whatsoever to prove his ownership of Twairob and yet Macquire had two with a face value of 498, and another for two shares under Macquire Farmer (Private) Limited.
“There is no company resolution from… Macquire nor directors of Twairob confirming the transfer of shares to the accused. Gurlyn… is the property owned by… Macquire, and she has title to the property. Accused had no right to sell the property to First Mortgage Investments,” read the CID dossier, adding transfers were thus impossible because the accused knew he was bluffing.
It also emerged during the police investigations that Mutanga had even instructed his IFS Real Estate employee Jacob Mugugu to backdate his ownership and inception as Twairob director to October 2003.
In addition to a petition sent to Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and detailing the 46 year-old businessman's shenanigans, it has also emerged that the Maikai Real Estate owner had even went on to obtain a duplicate copy of the Gurlyn title deeds in order to buttress his ownership claims of the land.
And as the Makomo saga rages on, the embattled businessman has been battling Macquire’s sons Christopher Harry Bruce, and Phillip Macquire in and out of the courts.
Round about July, he had even tried to cause the eviction of the Macquires through a purported sale of the respective holding to his proxy Munyaradzi Tichaona, but the duo was thwarted by the courts and police.
In that episode, Mutanga and his sidekick had threatened to overrun or invade – jambanja-style – the northern Harare plot, and only to be stopped by authorities.
But even, though, a case had been opened against the persuasive businessman in the early 2000s – just as he has been arraigned for several other and serious offences – he has somehow managed to evade proper prosecution.
A controversial character, the flamboyant businessman is also the name and character behind the infamous Bernwin Development Company, which caused pain in Mutare in the 90s.