Senior Court Reporter
BANK accounts of the Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef) were siphoned of $120 million after a syndicate of hackers gained access to the organisation’s computer systems.
Using Zimdef authorisation codes, the hackers ordered banks to transfer large sums of money to their own accounts, a Harare court heard yesterday.
Out of the $120 million, only $30 000 has been recovered, so far, after the National Building Society reversed one of the transactions.
The hacking came to light on December 28 last year after a whistle-blower wrote an email to Zimdef detailing the fraud.
Investigations led to the arrest of Kenyan tourist Primrose Nyeri Mwangi, who runs Maffkett Private Limited Company and Primkett Travel, which were operating at Joina City in Harare.
Mwangi was yesterday taken to the Harare Magistrates Court charged with fraud and violating the conditions of her tourist visa.
She was not asked to plead to the charges when she appeared before Harare regional magistrate Mr Stanford Mambanje, who remanded her in custody to today for her bail application.
Mwangi is being represented by lawyer Mr Farai Nyamayaro.
Mr Zvikomborero Mupasa, appearing for the State, alleges that between December 1 and 29 last year, Mwangi teamed up with Gerald Pondai, Prosper Hove and some members of their syndicate to access the Zimdef computer data systems and through that got access to the ZB Bank and CBZ accounts of Zimdef.
It is said that Mwangi and the syndicate then transferred $20 million through the standard Zimswitch system, using Zimdef authority codes, into the Steward Bank account of Maffikett Trading.
The court heard that they also transferred other sums into Atrier Engineering CBZ account, Newplaces (Pvt) Limited NBS account and Tavaka Holding NBS account.
The State alleges that Mwangi then used the money transferred into her company’s account to purchase bulk cooking oil.
According to the State, the offence came to light when Zimdef was alerted through an email by a whistle-blower on December 28 detailing how the accounts had been hacked through its internal systems.
It is said that bank statements revealed that $120 million was stolen from Zimdef ZB Bank account and CBZ Bank with $30 000 recovered through a reversed transaction by NBS bank.
Mwangi is also facing a separate charge of violating conditions of her visitor’s entry certificate, which gave her just one month as a tourist between December 14 and January 14.
During the stay, Mwangi is alleged to have violated the conditions of the tourist visa by engaging in employment or by conducting business as the director for Primkett Travel and Tours and Mafkett Trading.