Muponda gets custody

Fugitive ENG Asset Management boss, Gilbert Muponda, who faces charges of abusing Z$61 billion in depositors' funds in 2003, was remanded in custody on Thursday after handing himself to police the previous day.

Muponda, who has been based in Canada over the past seven years, returned home for the first time on Wednesday and handed himself to Chief Superintendent Peter Magwenzi. He was taken before Magistrate Don Ndirowei on Thursday who remanded him in custody to August 26.

Muponda says he was in the process of clearing his name after his de-specification by government on April 29 this year and the subsequent clearance by Interpol. Muponda has been specified since 2004.

Muponda and his fellow ENG director Nyasha Watyoka were arrested in 2003 after allegations ENG Capital had abused depositors funds. When he skipped bail, Muponda was facing 31 counts of fraud, 12 counts of theft, seven counts of violating the Serious Offences Act and several Exchange Control charges.

Muponda's bank Century/CFX Bank's assets and its MoneyGram International franchise were grabbed and incorporated into Interfin Bank. Muponda's 309 million shares in Century Bank were irregularly converted into CFX Bank then into Interfin Banking Corporation, which

is chaired by Farai Rwodzi, who co-owns the bank with Retired General Solomon Mujuru, his family and other senior politicians.

Muponda said he had returned home to focus on his battle with Interfin for them to return his assets which were sold after false allegations which have now been proven wrong.

Muponda says his bank account was seized on false claims that it was not on sound financial footing, even though the holding company ENG Capital group had a market capitalisation of US$75 million, making it the single biggest combined treasury in the Zimbabwe financial market, according to Muponda.

His lawyer Benjamin Chikowore told the court that Muponda skipped bail to Canada after receiving anonymous threats from ENG investors.

However, prosecutor Tapiwa Kasema said the defence had not made it clear whether the offence in question and the issues that led to his disappearance had been resolved.

"The State would apply that the warrant be confirmed if the defence does not explain, maybe his papers were not in order hence he surrendered himself," he argued.

Magistrate Ndirowei said the warrant of arrest was still subsisting and therefore remanded him behind bars.

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