FINANCE minister ChrisKuruneri has bolstered his defence team by hiring Advocate Chris Andersen in his quest for bail on charges of externalising foreign cu-rrency.
The defence team led by Advocate Andersen is instructed by Bruce Mujeyi and David Drury of Gollop & Blank.
On Wednesday new evidence was presented to Supreme Court Judge Elizabeth Gwaunza by state prosecutor Joseph Jagada at a hearing in chambers. The evidence included pictures of a safe in which the externalised funds were allegedly kept in Cape Town.
Another picture show-ed a newly-acquired Mercedes Benz which was still to be delivered to the accused.
Jagada told the judge that the man appearing in the pictures was a Mr Heyman who had told investigators that “Kuruneri was bringing money in suitcases which had to be kept in a safe”.
Jagada said investigations were still being carried out in South Africa.
Ruling on the bail application was reserved.
Kuruneri is facing charges of externalising foreign currency between 2002 and this year. He is accused of channelling US$1 million, £37 000 and R30 000 to accounts abroad.
Andersen told the chambers hearing that the funds Kuruneri used were earned as “free funds”, meaning they did not originate locally, adding that since his client was a member of parliament and was appointed by the president as minister there was no way he would abscond.
“The appellant has been a member of parliament and His Excellency has not removed him from his post although an acting minister has been appointed,” Andersen said.
“Where else can he go? Certainly not to Europe or South Africa,” said Andersen. “He has a career and he risks losing lots of assets and huge sums of investments.
“So we propose that he be placed under house arrest since he is a minister and his house is always guarded.”
Andersen said Kuruneri had revised his proposed cash for bail from $7 million to $50 million.
Andersen told the court that his client was “also willing to hand in the title deeds of his company called Climatex, which is worth $6 billion”.
Jagada said since the accused had connections everywhere in the world he should not be granted bail.
“The accused has connections in Venezuela, North America, Europe and even Canada where he has relatives,” he said.
“Right now we have another case involving Gilbert Muponda who had stringent bail conditions, but he has absconded and is now on the run.”
Muponda, a former director of the defunct ENG Asset Management Investments, violated his bail conditions and has disappeared.
Jagada said Kuruneri had R1,3 million cash in his account in South Africa,which would enable him to live comfortably once he was outside the country.
The state countered Andersen’s suggestion that the money Kuruneri is accused of externalising was earned as “free funds”. Jagada said the money was “earned between 1976-1981 and payments were only made in 2002 in cash and there was no explanation, which creates reasonable suspicion,” he said.