The trial of Walter Magaya's Prophetic Healing and Deliverance Ministries (PHD) church on allegations prejudicing government of millions of dollars in potential revenue through tax evasion failed to start Thursday after prosecutors served state papers late.
Church lawyer Everson Chatambudza told Harare Regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya that he needed more time to peruse the docket in order to prepare his defence.
"We are applying for postponement of the matter to another date because we only received the docket yesterday (Wednesday).
"It's a bulky document of about 367 pages so we will need more time to go through it," Chatambudza said.
One of PHD's directors, Nelson Tawanda Marimo, is being charged on behalf of the church and is facing charges of contravening the Value Added Tax Act.
Alternatively, he is accused of breaching the Income Tax Act, failing to keep proper records, failing to declare records and failure to uphold the Employees Act.
The complainant is Zimra chief investigating officer Tinashe Madakadze.
Prosecutors say PHD evaded tax after raising revenue from selling church regalia, anointing oil and holy water.
It is further claimed that the church also evaded tax on its accommodation business at Yadah Hotel in Waterfalls.
Court heard the offences were unearthed sometime in October 2018 when the government conducted tax investigations and recovered financial statements from PHD extending from 2013 to 2017.
Statements were also recovered from the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe which were submitted by the church for loan application.
The statements showed that PHD had realised sales amounting to US$28,706 040 million during the period 2013 to 2017, and that during that period, it did not submit income tax returns to ZIMRA.
Again, and during the same period, it is alleged that the church paid remuneration amounting to US$950 522.99 to Magaya's wife, Tendai, through bank transfer into her personal Stanbic Bank account.
PHD also transferred remuneration of US $2 403 658 to Walter Magaya's Stanbic bank account and on both occasions, PHD evaded tax by not paying PAYE (pay as you earn).
Prosecutors say PHD had no records of goods and services that is sells and purchases, which is a violation of VAT laws.
The church also reportedly failed to declare exports made and had submitted VAT returns with false entries, again in violation of the VAT Act.
George Manokore prosecuted.