HARARE, Feb 19 — Three former Air Zimbabwe Holdings bosses accused of swindling the national airline of more than 5.0 million euros and 2.0 million US dollars have been denied bail.

The three applied for bail on two separate court records where suspended chief executive officer Innocent Mavhunga is jointly charged with sacked company secretary Grace Pfumbidzayi, who is also charged on another court record alongside former chief executive officer Peter Chikumba.

Harare Magistrate Tendai Mahwe Monday dismissed the bail application for Mavhunga and Pfumbidzayi after considering the high risk of their absconding.

“The offence involves large sums of money and it is clear that extra–territorial investigations need to be done. But we should take into consideration that bail application must be balanced with proper administration of justice,” he said.

“The State must prove that abscondment is possible, both accused have strong connections. It is thereby prudent to deny them bail,” he said while remanding the trio to March 4 this year for trial.

Meanwhile Harare regional magistrate Donald Ndirowei dismissed the bail application for Pfumbidzayi and Chikumba who are jointly charged in another case, also citing flight risks and interference with investigations.

“The accused persons are facing offenses of a serious nature and if granted bail they are likely to flee the country. It is likely that the accused persons will interfere with investigations considering their positions in the company. The application is hereby dismissed,” he said while remanded the duo to March 4 this year.

Allegations against Chikumba and Pfumbidzayi are that sometime in 2013, the Air Zimbabwe board of directors chaired by Ozias Bvute queried the amount of money paid to Navistar Insurance Brokers by the airline in respect of aviation insurance premiums for the period between April 2009 and April last year.

The query prompted the board to appoint BCA Forensic Audit which conducted an audit and established that on March 18, 2009, Chikumba and Pfumbidzayi allegedly corruptly abused their duty as public officers by appointing Navistar Insurance Brokers to provide aviation insurance cover without going to tender and terminated the services of the existing insurer who was providing the same service.

The State further alleged on March 20, 2009, Chikumba and Pfumbidzai allegedly connived with their colleagues being directors of Navistar Insurance Brokers Givemore Nderere, Vukile Hlupo, and Orten Mawire, who were arrested on Monday, to defraude the airline by inflating aviation insurance premiums.

In a different case, Mavhunga is alleged to have connived with Pfumbidzayi and directors of Navistar to misrepresent to the airline that two A320 Airbuses in the fleet were not insured and there was need to insure them.

As a result and pursuant to their plans, they allegedly originated four fictitious debit notes in the sum of 1,659,276 USD and 360,448 USD purportedly to be paid for aviation premiums.