Businessman Fabris Convicted in Investment Scam

By Judith Nyuke

Businessman Luka Ignatius Fabris has been convicted by a Harare magistrate on allegations stemming from an unsuccessful investment agreement with Lee Anne Patricia Rudland in 2019.

The matter is scheduled for sentencing on Tuesday.

Fabris was convicted following a complete trial. However, Magistrate Feresi Chakanyuka noted in her ruling that the case relied on evidence from just one witness.

She defended her acceptance of the evidence from a sole witness, emphasizing that the caliber of the evidence is crucial, particularly when it is both clear and convincing.

“The court find no reason for the complainant to lie against the accused.
There is no paper trail of the money paid back to the complainant. Hence the accused is found guilty,” she said.

During the trial, the complainant testified that there was a verbal contract made with Spartan Security Pvt Ltd to invest ZWL$4.8 million. It was agreed that the investment would yield a two percent interest, which would be paid out in United States dollars.

She said the total investment was equivalent to US$1 million and was only paid amount equivalent to US$540 000.

She stated that the aggregate investment amounted to the equivalent of US$1 million, yet she received a payment that was only equivalent to US$540,000.

The accused did not deny receiving ZWL$4.8 million. However, he contended that the terms of the agreement stipulated that withdrawals would be made in ZWL cash equivalent to the invested amount, which he fully paid. Regrettably, a portion of it was diminished due to inflation.

He also refuted the claim that he had pledged to invest her money in a cattle ranching venture, stating that Spartan Security Pvt Ltd not possess such a business.

The State represented by Anesu Chirenje alleges that sometime in 2019, Fabris approached Rudland and told her that they were running cattle ranching business which was very profitable.

Fabris acting on behalf of Spartan Security lured Rudland to invest into the business and promised her that she would get two percent of her total investment every month.

It is further alleged that Rudland got interested and agreed to invest.

Rudland who had her money banked with her lawyers Coelne Welsh and Guest’s trust account instructed her lawyers to transfer some money into accused’s bank account.

Further allegations are that on 21 March 2019 Rudland’s lawyers transferred the sum of ZWL$ 4 800 000-00 from their Standard Chartered Bank account number into CBZ bank account number belonging to Spartan Security.
It is the State’s case that Rudland made several efforts to engage Fabris but he became evasive.

Rudland realized that she had been duped and made a report.

Responding to the allegations, Fabris pleaded not guilty to fraud charges.

He denied ever entering into the nature of transaction or agreement as alleged by Rudland.

He said Rudland made an arrangement with Spartan Security wherein she would transfer ZWL 4 800 000-00 into the 1st Accused’s account held at CBZ Limited in exchange for cash in ZWL$ currency at a fee of 1% (1 per cent)

He added that he is only one of four directors and acted for Spartan Security with the blessings of the full board of directors and can not be held personally liable for a transaction that was consummated with the full knowledge and authorization of the whole board.

He also said Rudland collected all her cash in ZWL$ from the Spartan Security’s offices and has been paid in full all her dues.

Fabris said Rudland had to collect her cash in batches per her instructions and by the time she collected the last batch of cash, her money had lost value due to inflation and she started to demand compensation for the inflation inflicted loss, which directors of Spartan Security declined.

He also added that Spartan Security never agreed in principle or otherwise to settle Rudland ZWL$4 800 000-00 in United States Dollars as alleged and never paid any amount in United States dollars as alleged as this would amount to an illegal foreign currency trade transaction.

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