High Court grants Lunat bail

Bulawayo High Court Judge Justice Thompson Mabhikwa has granted local businessman Ismail Moosa Lunat ZWL$20 000 bail, a month after languishing in custody. 

Lunat (57) is facing allegations of externalising and laundering foreign currency amounting to over US$1.3 million dollars.

Last month, Bulawayo Provincial magistrate Tinashe Tashaya denied Lunat bail, citing that the amount involved in the case is too high of which, if convicted, he (Lunat) may face a lengthy jail term.

Magistrate Tashaya noted that Lunat already had three pending cases of a similar nature before a Harare court which date back to 2018.

Lunat’s legal representative, Nqobani Sithole of Ncube Attorneys approached the High Court appealing against Tashaya’s ruling.

As part of the bail conditions, Justice Mabhikwa ruled that Lunat surrenders all his travelling documents, continue residing at his Khumalo home and to report twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays at Bulawayo Central Police Station until the matter is finalised.

In his previous court appearance, Sithole (Lunat’s lawyer) implored the court to engage the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) to release information on his client’s case.

He said the State, according to ZACC alleged his client received a total of US$1 349 495.24 through his company and transferred the money into several individuals and companies’ bank accounts when in fact the amount was supposed to be US$2.2million.

Sithole argued that when ZACC arrested Lunat, the matter was already being investigated by CID Commercial Crimes Division and the details from the two bodies (ZACC and CID) were not in sync.

He stated that according to the information obtained by the CID from Lunat’s bank statement, a total of US$2.2million worth of transactions were made, with the name of one local businessman Mohammed Zakariya Patel appearing, but on the papers presented by the State to the court the particular name and the funds are not reflecting.

According to State papers, in December 2018, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) raised a query over how Lunat was using his company bank account to engage in illicit transactions.

“On December 5, 2018, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe raised an alarm to the effect that the accused person used his company, Rollright Consultancy NMB account number 00002101194387 to peddle in illicit financial flows through illegally engaging in trade or exchange of money,” read the papers.

“This resulted in thousands of United States dollars being externalised outside Zimbabwe while various amounts were channelled into the black market in Zimbabwe.”

The State alleged that at the time when the offence was committed, Lunat and his accomplices received US$1 349 495.24 through his company and he transferred the money into several individuals and company bank accounts.

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