The Herald (Harare)

2 October 2011

Zimbabwe: AFRE - Patterson Timba Responds

Former Afre Corporation executive chairman Mr Patterson Timba has dismissed the forensic audit report prepared by BCA Forensic Audit Services (Pvt) Limited saying it was one-sided and that he was not given an opportunity to defend himself.

The report implicated Mr Timba of fraud that led to Afre being exposed to the tune of US$16 million.

According to the report, Mr Timba is alleged to have extended the money he borrowed from Mr Jayesh Shah, using Afre shares as collateral, to RFHL and charged annual interest of 42 percent.

Mr Timba through his lawyer Mr Vote Muza of Muza and Nyapadi is accusing the audit firm of wanting to scandalise him by not affording him a right of reply in the report. In a letter to to Mr Budhama Chikami of BCA on Friday last week, Mr Muza threatened to take legal action if the auditors did not withdraw the report.

"We are instructed as follows; that you immediately withdraw your report from publication and circulation to the Afre board, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the media, or anyone for that matter. That you should tender a public retraction of the false and defamatory reports that you leaked to the media," Mr Muza said.

He said in the event of BCA's failure to act on Mr Timba's demands, legal action would be instituted.

"We will be suing you for defamation to recover sufficient damages to compensate our client for his good name and reputation that your report has soiled. To have your reports quashed for violating our client's basic constitutional rights and to report you to your professional institution for not just misconduct but also, serious breach of ethics," Mr Muza said.

He said there had been conflict of interest when the auditing firm accepted an appointment to audit ReNaissance Merchant Bank and its related companies that included Afre.

"In other words you prepared two reports over the same company, for two different principals whose motives and collusion were, and still remain to our client quite questionable.

"Our client's gripe with your report is not only centred on the controversial and dubious procedures that you adopted in compiling, but is also hinged on the correctness of some, if not all of its substance," Mr Muza said.

He said when BCA was compiling the RBZ forensic audit report for ReNaissance Merchant Bank and its related companies, Mr Timba had insisted on giving a written response which the firm did not have problems acceding to it.

But when Mr Timba demanded the same for Afre, the firm refused and insisted that he give oral responses.

Mr Muza added that the audit report had mistakenly concluded that Mr Timba had been unco-operative because he had insisted on giving written responses that the audit firm refused.

"Your unobjective one-sided report ended up being based on erroneous, deficient, twisted and in certain instances false factual inferences with the sole objective of scandalising our client.

"In particular, and by way of illustration, you falsely alleged that our client arm twisted the Afre board without satisfying yourself through a response from our client how such arm twisting could have taken place.

You failed to acknowledge that the company's internal procedures through the memorandum and articles of association were followed in all the impugned transactions," he said.

Mr Muza added that the audit report contained "a litany of incorrect factual and legal conclusions".

"It is clear to our client that you lacked professional independence, were biased and your bias manifested itself through the general malice pervading the report.

"You without the correct factual and legal basis and guided by your lack of objectivity, imputed fraud, and other criminal allegations against ours, the result of which has been to defame, disparage, besmear and humiliate him.

"Your actions in general, and in particular, your failure to afford our client his natural and constitutional right to be heard, demonstrate your breach of professional ethics."

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