MEDICAL sundries supplier, Drax, suspects that security sector elements misrepresented facts to Interpol not to release US$2 million seized in Hungary last year when the government intended to pay the firm for supplying Covid-19 materials.
Drax entered into a multi-million dollar Covid-19 medicine and medical sundries supply contract with the National Pharmaceutical Company (NatPharm), a quasi-government firm.
However, the deal hit a snag after Interpol froze the payment in Budapest, Hungary, after Drax’s local representative Delish Nguwaya was arrested on allegations of fraud over the agreement.
Nguwaya has since been removed from remand.
Drax through its lawyer Admire Rubaya on August 23 wrote to Interpol Budapest seeking the release of the US$2 million, arguing it was misled by “rogue elements” in Harare.
“Drax is afraid that there might have been misinformation concerning the Drax-NatPharm deal probably by those responsible for communicating with you.
“It is our client’s considered view that your counter-parts at Interpol Harare ought to have categorically stated that these are not illicit funds and you had no reason to hold on to the funds, but to release the same to the appointed Drax representative,” Rubaya wrote.
“Our client asserts that it has sought to get the exact explanation given by Interpol Harare concerning the US$2 million without success.
“The fact that Interpol Harare has somehow prevaricated on availing what exactly it communicated to you might mean that it gave a negative report concerning the funds.
“If indeed there has been a negative report concerning the funds from Interpol Harare, our client challenges that and seeks to be given the opportunity to set the record straight.
“It is pertinent for Interpol to be adequately informed on the issues at hand so as to avoid being scandalised by politically-motivated miscommunication and misinformation antics designed to portray Drax and probably the current Government of Zimbabwe led by…President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa in bad light.”
The lawyer contended that since Nguwaya has been removed from remand, Interpol had no right of continuing to still hold onto the money.
They urged Interpol to engage the relevant authorities in the Zimbabwean government to ascertain the full circumstances relating to the Drax-NatPharm transaction.
“Drax opines that Interpol Harare might have referred you to the arrest of…Nguwaya who is the Zimbabwean country representative of Drax. He was charged with the offence of fraud…
“These allegations have since been dismissed by the courts for…Nguwaya had been appearing in court without any progress in the matter. The alleged prejudice was set out as ‘prejudice to Good administration to the Government of Zimbabwe’.
“As it stands, Drax country representative is not facing any criminal charges before any court of law. His arrest in the first place was not warranted and our client has it on good authority that one of the senior prosecutors in the National Prosecuting Authority has opined that there was never a fraudulent misrepresentation by Drax to the extent that it was therefore improper and unlawful to charge…Nguwaya with fraud.
“Drax represented that it had capacity to supply and deliver medicines and medical sundries thus it fulfilled its mandate in terms of the contract,” Rubaya averred.
Drax insisted they delivered the drugs which have already been consumed in the fight against the pandemic and it was only fair for Interpol to release the funds.
“As the agreed performance guarantee prerequisite, Drax made available US$2 million worth of medicines and medical supplies. Thus, Drax fulfilled its end of the contract as confirmed by letters from the Secretary for Health and NatPharm.
“In the circumstances, the Government of Zimbabwe proceeded to lawfully process a payment of US$2 million which happens to be the requisite amount for the supplied and delivered medical supplies and medicines.
“The Government of Zimbabwe has the obligation to pay Drax the sum of US$2 million and probably more arising from the delivered medicines. Consequent to the confirmed delivery, NatPharm and Secretary for Health and Childcare lawfully initiated the payment of the US$2 million you are holding,” Rubaya wrote.
“In those circumstances the US$2 million which you are holding onto is neither proceeds of crime nor is it tainted in the contemplation of public international law as would warrant your involvement in the first place.”