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Trial of Suspected Fraudster Michael Smith Commences

Wesley Tafara Jena

Trial of Suspected Fraudster Michael Smith Commences

The trial of Michael Smith, a suspected fraudster facing multiple charges including theft of trust property, fraud, and concealing transactions, has commenced before Harare magistrate Mrs Ethel Chichera. Smith, who faces a total of 39 charges, pleaded not guilty to all counts after the State amended some of the charges.

The trial proceedings had initially been proposed to start on April 8 and continue on a continuous roll, but Prosecutor Mr Anesu Chirenje argued for an earlier date, citing the prolonged delay in opening the trial and potential inconvenience to witnesses. Responding to this, Mrs Chichera adjourned the trial to the following Monday.

Smith’s defense lawyer, Mr Takudzwa Nyambira, is expected to present the defense outline, while Mr Chirenje will open the State’s case and call witnesses starting from the next court session.

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The allegations against Smith stem from his time as a director of MA Auto Suppliers, trading as Mr Cruiser, during which he allegedly defrauded the company of substantial amounts, totaling at least US$38,000 and R124,000. These actions reportedly took place while the main owner, Mr Michael Scot Asher, was stranded in Australia due to travel restrictions during the Covid-19 era.

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The court heard that Smith failed to disclose to Mr Asher that the company was making payments to its South African suppliers through a third party, Mant Procurement (Pvt) Ltd, a scheme allegedly orchestrated by Smith to inflate costs and share the excess amounts with an accomplice named Tony Oatley.

The case, initially brought before the court in 2022, faced delays as Smith made several unsuccessful applications that were dismissed by the court. However, with the trial now underway, the legal process will continue as both the defense and prosecution present their arguments and evidence.

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