How #Zimbabwe businessman Trevor Carelse-Juul allegedly bribed Minister to get million dollar Harare construction project

The dramatic events in central London on Friday when businessman Trevor Carelse-Juul tried to assault Nehanda Radio Managing Editor Lance Guma during an interview have once again shone a spotlight on the allegations of corruption in the awarding of the tender for the Angwa City project in Harare.

Trevor Carelse Juul and Sam Sipepa Nkomo
Trevor Carelse Juul and Sam Sipepa Nkomo

Guma had sought to pin Carelse-Juul on specific allegations that he had effectively bribed the then head of the Mining Industry Pension Fund (MIPF) Sam Sipepa Nkomo, into giving his company SBT Juul Africa the contract to manage the Angwa City project.

Instead of answering the specific question on payments made to a company owned by Sipepa Nkomo’s wife, Juul lost his temper and rushed to switch off the camera. He then charged at the journalist several times and had to be restrained by his PR official.

It was only during the altercation and at the continuous questioning by Guma, that Carelse-Juul attempted to answer the specific question on the payments, but even his answer was not an honest one.

Back in 1999 he admitted that Sipepa Enterprises was a joint venture between his wife, Anita and Nkomo’s then spouse Nomagqweta.

At the time he said any payments made to that company by Concept Office Furniture were part of a capital injection in Sipepa Enterprises by Anita Carelse Juul. But on Friday during the interview with Guma, he said he knew nothing about the payments.

The late Daily News journalist Julius Zava wrote a series of articles exposing what was then known as the MIPF scandal. In the run-up to the Zifa elections this month, veteran journalist Geoff Nyarota, who was the editor of the Daily News at the time of the scandal, again wrote on the issue, arguing that Carelse-Juul had no business trying to run football in Zimbabwe, when he had fled the country in 1999 on the back of the scandal.

Nyarota says; “A thick file containing comprehensive documentation of alleged backhand payments to Nkomo formed the basis of the Daily News investigation into the MIPF scandal. Below we reproduce an abridged version of the article by Nyarota setting out the case against Carelse Juul and his companion Sam Sipepa Nkomo.

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Carelse-Juul amazingly eyes Zifa’s top post again

By Geoff Nyarota

Carelse-Juul’s long sojourn in South Africa, which goes back to December 1999 is certainly not cast in the same innocent template as the self-imposed exile of hundreds of thousands of other Zimbabweans who are based in the same South Africa or elsewhere in the Diaspora.

Carelse-Juul fled from Zimbabwe on December 10, 1999, after details of his acts of alleged massive corruption as an alleged accomplice of one Samuel Sipepa Nkomo, the then little-known principal officer of the wealthy Mining Industry Pension Fund (MIPF) were placed in the public domain.

The fund was then engaged in the construction of one of Harare’s newest high-rise projects, Angwa City at the apex of Angwa Street and Julius Nyerere Way.

The scandal was investigated by the then recently established privately owned daily newspaper, The Daily News, of which I was the editor-in-chief.

An intensive probe by the newspaper revealed in an article published on December 9, 1999, that Nkomo, allegedly acting in elaborate connivance with his close friend, Carelse-Juul, had been the beneficiary in 45 cases of fraud linked to the Z$564 million construction project.

Nkomo immediately resigned from MIPF.

He was charged with fraud and corruption, totalling Z$4.5 million, a staggering amount at the time.

SBT Juul Africa, a company owned by Carelse-Juul had allegedly recommended a leading British company, Taylor Woodrow Construction, as the main contractor on the Angwa City project.

In a letter signed by Nkomo and addressed directly to Carelse-Juul in June 1997, MIPF had appointed SBT Juul Africa to manage the Angwa City project.

It was alleged that when Nkomo awarded the contract to Carelse Juul, he knowingly by-passed the normal tender procedures because he stood to benefit from illicit payments from his companion.

Having secured the contract Carelse-Juul then recommended the main contractors, who, in turn, entered into a joint venture with MIPF to form a new company, Taymin Zimbabwe.

MIPF thus effectively became a significant investor in the official contractor on its own project.

“MIPF bought 26 percent shareholding in the new company worth Z$780 000,” the charge sheet read in part.

“Taylor Woodrow Construction were to own 49 percent, and the balance of 25 percent was issued to Makoni Cooper International (MCI), a company owned by Trevor Carelse Juul.”

When MIPF authorised Nkomo to acquire the shareholding, he allegedly issued a cheque for Z$3 million, which was deposited into MCI’s account.

Of this amount, Z$750 000 was used to purchase MCI’s shareholding in Taymin, while Z$250 000 was paid to a company called Sipepa Enterprises, leaving a balance of Z$2 million.

Nkomo was charged separately with misleading MIPF to enter this partnership without disclosing his personal interest in the deal.

“Through the fraudulent activities of the accused,” read the charge sheet, “MIPF suffered an actual prejudice of Z$3 million.

Cheques issued in these transactions, as well as a summary of company accounts were to be presented as evidence.

At the Daily News we had in our possession documents revealing that more than Z$1 million had been paid to Sipepa Enterprises through various advances by MCI, trading as Concept Office Furnisher, then of Karigamombe Centre in Harare.

The sole owner of Concept was Carelse Juul’s own wife.

The late Daily News reporter Julius Zava and I visited Carelse-Juul in his plush offices in the city centre.

Confronted with the documents in our possession Carelse Juul explained that Sipepa Enterprises was a joint venture between his wife, Anita and Nkomo’s then spouse Nomagqweta.

He explained that any payments made to that company by Concept Office Furniture were part of a capital injection in Sipepa Enterprises by Anita Carelse Juul.

Concept had made several payments, including electricity and telephone bills, to Sipepa’s creditors. It had also covered salaries and wages, rentals, purchase of materials and general running expenses.

“If my wife and Nkomo’s wife do business together, are they breaking the law?” Carelse-Juul asked with what sounded like genuine sincerity.

However state prosecutors insisted that, far from being normal business transactions, the payments were, in fact, bribes paid by Trevor Carelse-Juul to induce Samuel Sipepa Nkomo to favour SBT Juul Africa for the lucrative Angwa City contract.

A thick file containing comprehensive documentation of alleged backhand payments to Nkomo formed the basis of the Daily News investigation into the MIPF scandal.

Apart from the settlement by companies associated with Carelse-Juul of telephone and electricity bills for Nomagqweta Nkomo’s clothing factory in Southerton, two payments of Z$400 000 each were made by Concept Office Furniture to UDC, a Harare finance company of which Nkomo was a director and to which he owed Z$1 million.

In February 1999 MCI had paid 1 867 British Pounds on behalf of Taymin into Nkomo’s Diner’s Club account in London. Six months later Taylor Woodrow Construction paid US$5 644 to Southwestern Adventist University in Texas in the United States of America, where Nkomo’s son was a student.

Nkomo was an elder of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Zimbabwe. In November Taymin paid 1 342 British Pounds to the Royal Garden Hotel in London on Nkomo’s behalf. The paper trail was long.

Nkomo refused outright to talk to The Daily News throughout the investigation. When we broke the story neither he nor Carelse Carelse Juul challenged it.

Zava and I had subjected Carelse Juul to a gruelling interview in his office in the then new Southampton Building on Second Street.

Confronted with these many allegations he became slippery but the information and documents in our possession were too overwhelming. Instead he pleaded for time to respond to the allegations, saying he had to travel to Johannesburg on urgent business.

He said he would be back within a week and would then respond to our questions and clear both his own name and that of Nkomo. He did return to Harare briefly but carefully avoided another blistering encounter with The Daily News.

Then he left town, never to set foot in Harare again, to the best of my knowledge, at least not until I was forced to leave Harare for the United States myself in January 2003.

As for Nkomo, after two preliminary court appearances, the prosecution surprised all concerned by withdrawing charges against him before he had entered any plea, pending further investigation by the police. A substantial and detailed dossier simply faded away.

Nkomo went underground for two years. When he resurfaced in 2002 it was at the helm of the most unlikely company, Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, publishers of The Daily News. He was appointed by the new majority shareholder, Strive Masiyiwa of Econet fame.

In December 2002 Nkomo fired me as editor on trumped-up charges.

In September 2003 The Daily News was banned by government through the agency of Professor Jonathan Moyo, then Minister of Information, after Nkomo refused to register the newspaper with the Media and Information Committee in terms of the controversial Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).

Other privately owned newspapers, The Financial Gazette, The Zimbabwe Independent and The Standard, duly registered.

Nkomo then effectively terminated his own brief sojourn in the media world to enter the realm of politics, where he reached his pinnacle in 2009 as Minister of Water Resources in the Government of National Unity, representing Morgan Tsvangirai’s opposition Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai, where he had been embraced..

Meanwhile, Carelse Juul was to resurface in 2014 when, to the amazement of those who know him well, he made a renewed bid for the Zifa presidency.

After he lost 44-14 to the mercurial Cuthbert Dube after a second round of voting, the same Standard newspaper quoted Carelse-Juul as having said: “I believe I have done my part in football. At this stage I have no intentions to come back. I am concentrating on my business in architectural development.”

Given this and the sordid details of his history, it is sincerely hoped that his people on the ground in Zimbabwe will tell Trevor Carelse Juul that he clearly has no legitimate business weighing any options for Zifa’s top job in 2015, unless he genuinely believes, of course, that Zimbabwe’s football fraternity has a collectively defective memory.

Meanwhile, his companion of old, Samuel Sipepa Nkomo has since strategically positioned himself behind opposition politician Tendai Biti to become Vice President in the happy event that the electorate of Zimbabwe votes overwhelmingly for their newly formed People’s Democratic Party in 2018.

Nyika yedu yeZimbabwe yakaroyiwa neakafa, chokwadi!

(With excerpts from Against the Grain, Memoirs of a Zimbabwean Newsman, a book written by Geoffrey Nyarota and published by Zebra Press, Cape Town, in 2006.)

Trevor Carelse-Juul loses his temper on Nehanda TV

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