A NIGERIAN businessman and pastor of the Liberation Centre in Bulawayo, Oma Alphonsus Achinulo, allegedly swindled his Zimbabwean business partner of more than $70,000 in a botched deal, a magistrate heard.
Gwanda regional magistrate, Joseph Mabeza heard this when, Achinulo, 48, of Suburbs in Bulawayo appeared before him to answer to theft charges involving $70,533, 34.
Achinulo, who is the director of Enfund Trading Company (Private) Limited, pleaded not guilty to the charge and was remanded out of custody to September 3 for continuation of trial.
He is being represented by Lison Ncube of James, Moyo-Majwabu and Nyoni Legal Practitioners. Achinulo and his business partner, Nicholas Masuku, were in a partnership deal of servicing and developing residential stands at Feinspruit Township in Umzingwane district.
Masuku is the managing director of N and S Properties. Prosecuting, Johannes Tlou said on October 20, 2010, Masuku entered into an agreement with Umzingwane Rural District Council to service and develop residential stands.
Tlou said in order to fulfil the contractual obligation, Masuku entered into a partnership with Achinulo’s company, Enfund Trading Company where it was agreed that Enfund Trading Company (Pvt) Ltd will bring in an earthmover and an excavator into the project. He said Achinulo only brought in an earthmover in violation of the deed of partnership. Tlou said Achinulo was appointed the financial director of the partnership of N and S Properties and Enfund Trading Company.
He said the servicing of Feinspruit Township stands commenced.
The court heard that along the way, the resources of the partnership dried up. “Since Masuku had an agreement with Umzingwane RDC, he approached the council and requested that council should sell 43 of the stands to raise money to be used to buy water reticulation pipes and materials to complete the servicing of Feinspruit Township,” said Tlou.
He said from May 2011 to February 2012, Achinulo received a total of $70,533, 34 and used the money for other purposes outside the deal. “Complainant tried in vain to engage the accused person as the accused took all the financial books and records of the partnership and refused to let the complainant have sight of them,” Tlou said.
As a result Masuku allegedly lost the money and nothing was recovered. In his defence presented through his lawyer, Ncube, Achinulo denied stealing the funds from his business partner.
Ncube said all the funds his client received were channelled towards the partnership project. Achinulo was the finance director in the joint venture entered with Masuku on June 20, 2010.
“The accused person in his capacity as finance director received money from Umzingwane Rural District Council after the sale of 43 stands that jointly belonged to Enfund Trading and N and S Properties.
“The proceeds from the sale of 43 stands was to finance activities relating to the servicing of residential stands at Fernspruit. The money was meant to be used for inter alia fuel and oils, pipes for servicing, casual wages, repairs and maintenance of equipment as well as office expenses.
All the money received by the accused person was used solely for these purposes,” he said. Ncube said Masuku had fabricated the story since their relationship had gone bad and was trying to settle personal and malicious scores against his client.
He said some of the money had actually been collected by Masuku.“The complainant has been working with Umzingwane RDC much to the prejudice of the accused person. The RDC and Masuku sold stands that belonged to the accused person without his knowledge or consent,” Ncube said.
Masuku said he never saw the funds given to Achinulo by the council meant to buy the pipes. He said he ended up borrowing some pipes from council after Achinulo failed to deliver. Masuku also said there was no written agreement between him and the local authority concerning the borrowed pipes.
He said he hoped to replace the pipes after buying theirs.