Total Zim In $65k Fraud Case
French international oil giant, TOTAL, is facing serious fraud charges at Tredgold Magistrates Court, Bulawayo after allegedly defrauding one of its long time dealers of $65K.
TOTAL Zimbabwe Limited representative, Simba Chipawe, was issued with a warrant of arrest after failing to appear in Court on the 30th October, 2018 for continuation of trial.
Criminal charges against TOTAL emanate from a Marketing License Agreement entered into with Messrs Ronnah Mafurirano, trading as Skyorks Service Station, sometime in 2006. The material terms of the agreement included marketing and selling of Total petroleum products at Skyorks while Total would supply products on approved terms of credit.
Messrs Mafurirano alleges that in or about October, 2011 TOTAL made a wrongful and fraudulant call upon a $65K guarantee which she had secured in favour of Total through CBZ Bank Limited. The call was made when TOTAL was faced with a meritorious dispute as to the amounts owing. It acted mala fide and unlawfully in declining to investigate various issues including underground leakages, overthrowing of fuel and invoices showing fuel purpotedly delivered but not received by the complainant.
An audit report completed in November, 2015 subsequently proved that the amount of $65K was not due by the complainant to TOTAL and that the payment on the guarantee by CBZ was not in settlement of any legal obligation of the complainant to TOTAL.
As a result of TOTAL’s arbitrary conduct, the complainant suffered damage amounting to millions of dollars including the fore-closure of her property in Khumalo.
This matter brings to the fore the urgent need for government to intervene and have a clear corporate governance policy which must be adhered to without fear or favour, especially by multi-national corporations operating in Zimbabwe.
To my knowledge, many Total dealers in Zimbabwe have had their properties fore-closed without proper investigatons/audits having been conducted and judicially evicted from their place of business in similar circumstances.
I am persuaded to think, the French company has used its financial muscle to legally wear out those who dare challenge its internal control systems.
Walter Nyabadza is a Zimbabwean lawyer and legal advisor for the National Reclamation Assembly. He writes in his personal capacity.
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