Home LOCAL NEWS Delish Nguwaya denied bail after magistrate says he is a flight risk

Delish Nguwaya denied bail after magistrate says he is a flight risk

Asking questions … The letter from the ZRP to the finance ministry, demanding answers over how Drax was awarded contract, and on the right is Delish Nguwaya following his arrest in 2017 on extortion and cocaine possession charges

HARARE – Covid-19 PPE procurement fraud-accused Delish Nguwaya was denied bail by a magistrate on Tuesday.

The 36-year-old is likely to re-offend if released, magistrate Vongai Muchuchuti said as she remanded him to June 30.

Nguwaya, the country representative of Drax International, the company accused of misrepresenting to officials to secure contracts worth US$60 million, is also a man of means and could flee the country.

The magistrate also said Nguwaya was likely to interfere with witnesses if released.

Nguwaya, a close friend of the Mnangagwa family, on Saturday became the first person to be charged over a multi-million-dollar Covid-19 medical equipment supply scandal exposed by ZimLive.

Drax Consult SAGL signed contracts worth US$60 million with the Zimbabwe government for the supply of drugs and medical equipment to NatPharm, the state firm which handles all health-related procurement for public hospitals and clinics.

The government has now cancelled the contracts – but not before Drax was paid millions of dollars in bank accounts opened days prior to the payments in Hungary and Mauritius.

Prosecutors accuse Nguwaya and his partner, Albania-born Ilir Dedja, of misrepresenting that Drax was a “pharmaceutical company based in Switzerland whereas it was merely a consulting company with no experience in the manufacture of drugs and medical products.”

Dedja and Nguwaya allegedly first approached the ministry of health sometime in 2019 and tendered an expression of interest for the supply of drugs by a company called Papi Pharma which was turned down after a vetting process, the prosecution said.

In August 2019, the duo would return this time as Drax Consult SAGL with an expression of interest to supply drugs and medical equipment worth U$20 million.

The then health ministry secretary, Agnes Mahomva, allegedly acted on the “misrepresentation” by Drax and roped in the finance ministry, NatPharm and the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) which culminated in a contract being signed.

Drax allegedly supplied medical products worth US$2 million as part of that contract, which stated that the company would be paid an advance of the same amount with the remaining US$18 million settled in monthly payments of US$1.5 million.

Prosecutors say the company entered the contract “through fraudulent means”.

Nguwaya, it is alleged, returned with a new expression of interest to supply medical products worth US$40 million, this time for a company called Drax International. He signed documents on behalf of the company.

The deal unravelled following media reports which pointed out that the company had inflated invoices for the supply of Covid-19 materials including test kits and coveralls.

Interpol also flagged a payment of US$2 million to a bank account in Hungary.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s twin son, Collins, has been forced to issue a statement denying any links to Nguwaya, who has met President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his wife several times. He was invited to a State House dinner hosted by the first lady last November.

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