‘Now Shoprite sponsors DEC outing to South Africa’

Shoprite Holding has sponsored some DEC officers to go to South Africa to go and examine some emails in the matter involving the alleged disappearance of about K49 billion worth of shares from the Zambian outlet.

This is because Shoprite has through their Zambian office finalized ‘off-shore” investigations for the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC), sources say.

But Lewis Mosho, the Zambia lawyer who acted as transfer secretary in the transaction is challenging the investigation and seizure of his law firm accounts through a judicial review in the Lusaka High court.

In a somewhat related development, Shoprite holding chairperson and South Africa’s fourth richest business mogul Christo Wiese is challenging the forfeiture of £674 920 (R7m) cash found in his luggage in April 2009 at Heathrow Airport in London.

Mosho contends in his affidavit that his law firm was duly instructed to make cash withdrawals on emailed instructions and that one Ivan Tonder (Shoprite agent) was authorized to collect the money.

In his affidavit Mosho further explained that he even wrote to the DEC in 2009 notifying them about the “controversial” instruction to make huge cash withdrawals but his letter went unattended to.

DEC sources noted their colleagues’ impending trip to South Africa is to probe the authenticity of emails that Lewis Nathan Advocates have filed both in the Kitwe civil case and   the Lusaka High Court.

Sources say DEC has failed to form a solid case against the lawyers in their quest to incriminate the lawyers by questioning the authenticity of the emails between Shoprite and Mosho prior and during the controversial transaction.

DEC sources noted that their colleagues working on the case failed to access emails from Zamnet and that Zamnet is not cooperating.

Zamnet is belived to have told DEC officers that they do not keep clients emails for more than seven days.

“After our officers who visited Zamnet a fortnight ago found nothing incriminating to warrant the continuation of investigations and the continued seizure of the law firm and the lawyer’s accounts, it has been decided that the interest of Shoprite be served by undertaking the South Africa trip,” the source said and added, “Zamnet told us that emails are never kept beyond a week (7 days).

The DEC has also in the past two weeks been making frantic efforts through agents to compel Mosho to release whatever he has on the Shoprite case more especially the possibility of forensic expert report other than the questionable one done by Shoprite.

Shoprite wish the DEC could rely on their “private forensic report” after allegedly tempering with their South Africa server as they think the move would make them appear smarter in the matter.

“So our seizure notice which we obtained on advice from ZICTA has not been of any help. Had our officers succeeded, we would have had a case against the lawyers and Mosho in particular. The only way is to depend on whatever we can get from South African authorities, of course through the Shoprite contact.”

Apparently, the DEC Commissioner Alita Mbhawe had early February sought intervention of ZICTA who responded to her letter on February 29th this year that only Zamnet could be of help.

The Shoprite shares scam has generated a lot of interest from other investigative wings of Government who have confirmed that several DEC officers could have been compromised by some top Shoprite directors, one of whom (Christo Wiese) is appearing in a London court over k5biliion cash found on him  (£674 920) at the elite Heathrow Airport.

It has been established that Shoprite have through their local office partnered with Northeen province Permanent Secretary  Emmanuel Mwamba dealing with top DEC officers through officers Henry Mtonga and fraud suspect Shubert Sinkala.

Sinkala is set to appear in the Lusaka’s magistrate court Wednesday next week over his conduct in the Shoprite matter but Commissioner Alita Mbhawe is seemingly making frantic efforts to let the officer set to be transferred to Kabwe off the hook. She is said to have had made contact with Director of Public Prosecutions, Mutembo Nchito.

Meanwhile, Shoprite holding chairperson and South Africa’s fourth richest business mogul Christo Wiese is challenging the forfeiture of £674 920 (R7m) cash found in his luggage in April 2009.

The embattled Shoprite chairperson wish to reclaim the money that the United Kingdom’s City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court had ruled in December that it was associated with criminality.

Following the ruling, the court  made an order for forfeiture of the cash, seized when,  moneyweb, a  South Africans online reports, he was stopped shortly before he was due to board a flight to Luxembourg on April 27 2009″ to chair a board meeting, according to a statement from the UK Border Agency.

Wiese had 30 days in which to notify his intention to appeal.

His solicitor, David McCluskey of Peters & Peters, told Moneyweb the appeal process has begun and it could take six-18 months for the matter to reach the High Court.

McCluskey has instructed UK barrister Clare Montgomery QC, who is defending Shrien Dewani, the British businessman accused of hiring a hitman to kill his wife, to fight the court case.

Montgomery is a specialist in commercial fraud, crime, administrative and media law, while McCluskey focuses on criminal fraud litigation and regulatory advisory work, particularly fraud, money laundering, corruption and professional conduct in business.

Asked what would decide when the case goes to court, McCluskey said it depends on how busy the administration of the court is.

The solicitor refused to reveal on what grounds the appeal was being made referring Moneyweb to Dr Wiese’s December 3 press statement.

According to the statement an appeal would be made “on the grounds that the decision is legally flawed and unjustified on the evidence”.

Wiese’s tribulations began on Monday, April 27 2009 when he was asked by UK border agency officers whether he was carrying any cash, Wiese, aged 69, responded by saying he had £120 000 in his hand luggage.

According to a statement from the UK Border Agency, “officers searched a holdall and found the cash in £20 and £50 notes. They then asked City Airport staff to retrieve Wiese’s checked in baggage.

“He was subsequently asked whether his two additional bags contained any more money. Wiese then declared that these contained a further £400 000 – £500 000.

“The UK Border Agency has the power to detain cash under the Proceeds of Crime Act in cases where they suspect that the money originates from or was intended for use in criminal conduct. This is to prevent money gained from suspected criminal activity being hidden overseas or being used to fund future criminal activity.

“When interviewed at City Airport, Wiese said that he intended to invest the money in banks in Luxembourg. He claimed he had transported the cash out of South Africa in the form of travellers’ cheques to avoid exchange controls there”.

When asked by Moneyweb in July why he was moving around with such a large sum of cash in his luggage, he said: “For tax and other reasons, I wanted to move the money from my bank in London to Luxembourg.

“It was a straightforward transfer from one European Union (EU) country to another, so there was no reason to declare it. Had I been moving to a non-EU country, I would have had to fill in a form but that was not the case.”

Wiese, a lawyer, owns stakes in retailer Shoprite, Invicta Holdings and Tradehold.

Tradehold is a holding company with interests in Moorgarth Holdings (incorporated in England and Wales), Tradegro (Guernsey), Moorgrath Properties Sarl (incorporated in Luxemburg), and Instore (England and Wales).

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