via Top govt officials used to launder billions – DailyNews Live by Fungi Kwaramba 6 JANUARY 2014
Top government officials including ministers could be receiving millions of dollars in bribes from foreign businessmen who use local politicians to launder money from Zimbabwe, documents seen by the Daily News reveal.
In email exchanges seen by this paper, a Harare-based businessman of Oman origin who also holds a British passport, Kamal Khalfan boasts about his connections with top government officials and how he could arrange deals with the Zimbabwe government.
Khalfan also owns Catercraft, which does catering for airlines in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe has lost billions of dollars in sleazy deals, especially involving gold and diamonds, and some top government ministers are believed to be behind the illicit activities bleeding the country.
The government officials work with middlemen who collect bribery money on behalf of billionaires some from Europe, who then benefit from deals to mine or buy gold and diamonds then smuggle minerals and cash out of the country.
President Robert Mugabe, last year admitted that corruption was pervasive in his government and before that he had revealed that some of his ministers were demanding bribes in order to grant mining licences.
The deals are done behind Mugabe’s back while some of the dubious businessmen are even introduced to the 89-year-old Zimbabwean leader.
Mugabe is usually told that these are clean businessmen who operate above board yet some of them are known international fraudsters and money launderers.
In the latest scam unearthed by the Daily News investigation team, a German national, only identified as Dietrich Herzog, asks Khalfan, to assist him to clandestinely acquire diamonds from top government
officials using opaque methods.
In the 2012 emails seen by the Daily News, Dietrich wrote to Khalfan and saying he was seeking to “buy stock which would be totally controlled by the top management of the country.
The question here of course is, does the establishment at the top indeed dispose of an important contingent of this product?”
Dietrich clearly tells Khalfan that the deal to buy diamonds should not go through official channels but through underhand dealings using top government officials.
In the email exchanges, Khalfan also appears to suggest that Dietrich must budget for money to pay government officials in return for the favours he wanted.
Yesterday, Khalfan confirmed that he knew Dietrich and was aware of the emails in question but warned the Daily News against writing a story based on “stolen” emails.
“Yes, I know him but through somebody. He is involved in a business deal with someone I know and I am involved because I come from the same country with that person,” he said.
Khalfan however, refused to discuss the email exchanges with Dietrich over the phone.
The Daily News visited him at his home where he claimed that his rivals are out to smear him and damage his reputation as a diplomat.
“How did you receive these emails, they were between me and Dietrich,” he said referring further questions to the police.
“The case is before the police and I cannot comment further.”
Khalfan then appeared to threaten the Daily News: “What I can tell you is be very careful because this is dangerous territory.”
He reportedly also boast of his connections to the security structures of the country.
In one email, Dietrich outlines his business proposal, which Khalfan later said must be redone because apparently it did not accommodate funds for “special purposes.”
Wrote Dietrich to Khalfan in which the issue of illegally taking Zimbabwe diamonds was discussed: “I am sending you this mail to familiarise you with a plan of a possible transaction, which would need your total involvement in order to evaluate the chances to succeed.”
“I am, together with a colleague (special agent) in contact with a person acting as the Principal, representing an organisation, which disposes of a substantial amount of cash funds (Euro). They aspire to acquire diamonds for reasons you will understand.
“But they request that relevant acquisitions of the product have to be realised within a transactional framework of “private’ purchases – i.e. not through the normal channels of the (4) operating diamond mining corporations.”
The deal involved “substantial amounts” of money which Dietrich promised to divulge to Khalfan through a landline telephone conversation.
However, Dietrich’s request initially hits a snag as Khalfan is demanding a sweetener to the deal particularly “Point 3.1.2 to include monthly “fees” or “expenses” to cover the unavoidable assistance I will need to offer to ensure I am provided with as much support as I need.”
“I think you should have known me enough by now and know how I operate, the connections I have, the respect shown to me by the key individuals in the country, the complicated power plays amongst the top personalities, and the “mine fields” to avoid in pursuing our interests.
“To reach the stage I am now has not been without cost, and I can sure (Sic) you it was considerable, and expenses will continue in one form or another. I see no mention of this in your proposal, and this is only one of the points that you need to address if you are serious in your negotiations with me,” wrote Khalfan.
Citing the stalled multimillion dollar Essar deal between Zimbabwe and an Indian company, Khalfan says the reason for the late completion of the transaction, is “wrong connections and wrong advice.”
Khalfan proposes monthly fees to “cover the unavoidable assistance I will need to offer to ensure I am provided with as much support as I need in pursuance of our objectives. I look forward to the figure you feel is appropriate.
“How I utilise such funds will be at my discretion, and mine alone. The $1,000 mentioned will be a separate transaction subject to receipts and your knowledge and approval.
“ I noted from your communications that $6,000.00 was originally mentioned which you then revised downwards to $2,500.00 and now to Zero.”
Just before the Daily News went to print yesterday, Khalfan sent an email insisting that the emails used in the story were stolen and that it was in breach of the Communications Act to publish the story.