Delish Nguwaya, a country representative for Drax Consult SAGL and Drax International (LLC), yesterday appeared in court on allegations of defrauding the Government of US$42 million in a botched medicinal products deal.
Nguwaya (36) was facing two counts of fraud when he appeared before Harare provincial magistrate Mrs Vongai Muchuchuti Guwuriro.
The State, led by Mr Charles Muchemwa and Lancelotte Mutsokoti, opposed bail before making an application for the matter to be postponed to Monday.
Nguwaya’s lawyer, Mr Tafadzwa Hungwe, opposed the State’s application to postpone the bail application to Monday, prompting the magistrate to rule that it be entertained later in the day.
When the matter resumed after lunch, the State insisted that the matter be postponed to Monday. Mr Mutsokoti said the State intended to lead evidence from the investigating officer, who was only identified as Superintendent Nyachega from the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC), on why bail is being opposed but could not proceed as he was called for other duties. Mr Hungwe told the court that when the charge was put to his client in the morning, Supt Nyachega was present in court, but he chose to excuse himself after the matter was briefly stood down.
He said bail was a right and urgent in its nature, therefore, its application cannot be postponed to Monday.
However, Mrs Guwuriro said the court’s hands were tied before postponing the matter to Monday for full bail application.
Allegations are that sometime last year, Nguwaya, in connivance with Llir Dedja, who is still at large, tendered an expression of interest to supply medicines through a US$20 million loan facility under a company called Papi Pharma.
It was, however, turned down after a vetting process by the relevant Government department.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care allegedly received another expression of interest dated August 22, 2019 for a similar US$20 million medical supply facility from the accused now under a company called Drax Consult SAGL.
The letter was addressed to Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo.
It is the State’s contention that in the expression of interest document, Nguwaya misrepresented that Drax Consult SAGL was a pharmaceutical company based in Switzerland whereas it was merely a consulting firm with no experience in the manufacture or supply of drugs and medicinal products.
The court heard that acting on the misrepresentation, Minister Moyo initiated a process through his then permanent secretary Dr Agnes Mahomva, which involved communication among all the relevant stakeholders, which included the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe and NatPharm, culminating into a contract between NatPharm and Drax Consult SAGL.
The State alleges that during the consultation process and in furtherance of their criminal enterprise and at the end of November 2019, Nguwaya presented himself before Flora Sifeku, the NatPharm managing director, where he introduced his accomplice, Llir Dedja, as owner of Drax Consult SAGL.
The court heard that during the consultation process, several written communications between Nguwaya and Government officials were made and delivered by Nguwaya.
It is alleged that on December 19, 2019, a written contract was eventually made between Drax Consult SAGL and NatPharm in which Nguwaya appended his signature as country representative for Drax Consult.