A man from Harare, Lloyd Chiyangwa (30), who specializes in cryptocurrency business, has been charged with theft and money laundering for allegedly duping an eye specialist of US$457,000 in a bitcoin deal by stealing the money from his accounts.
Chiyangwa appeared before Harare regional Magistrate Mrs. Marehwanazvo Gofa and was remanded in custody pending bail application.
The complainant, an eye specialist who operates an Eye Centre in Harare, bought cryptocurrency in India in July 2020 from a company in the United Kingdom. When he returned to Zimbabwe in 2021, he engaged Chiyangwa, who deals in cryptocurrency trading, to set up bitcoin wallets, exchange or move tokens from one wallet to another, and purchase other cryptocurrencies for his portfolio. Chiyangwa subsequently set up five wallets for the complainant and had access to privileged seed phrases and passwords of the complainant’s wallets.
During the period extending from October 2021 to March 2023, Chiyangwa allegedly stole tokens from different wallets of the complainant and transferred them to his wallet. He did so in batches, bringing the total amount to US$457,468. Chiyangwa used part of the proceeds of the crime to acquire two iPhone 14 cellphones, a laptop and a Mercedes Benz Sedan among other things.
The matter came to light in May when the complainant wanted to trade using his Trust wallet and discovered that Chiyangwa had transferred all the tokens into his own account. The State is opposing bail on the grounds that Chiyangwa had two passports and two South African bank accounts, which received part of the money, and was likely to escape to South Africa.