BY MELODY CHIKONO/TINASHE KAIRIZA
A whistleblower has submitted an explosive dossier to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) providing insight into how diamond mining firms in the Chiadzwa diamond fields in Manicaland, evaded tax obligations, prejudicing the state of jaw-dropping sums of money running into millions of United States dollars, the Zimbabwe Independent can exclusively reveal.
The plunder of diamond proceeds has been acknowledged at the highest level, with the late former president Robert Mugabe in 2015 making startling disclosures that the crisis-ridden country lost US$15 billion as a result of the opaque operations of the diamond mining firms due to understating earnings and output margins.
However, Mugabe’s claims remain unproved.
Impeccable sources said the late strongman, whose elongated rule ended with a theatrical coup in November 2017, sought to dramatise the pillaging.
But the government later terminated the licences of the diamond miners and combined their mining claims and operations under the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) in 2016.
A fresh investigations by the Independent reveals that the dossier, which has become a subject of scrutiny by Zimra, contains a trove of financial documents which were seized by the police in 2014 from former Trinesec Security owner Alex Mundiya casting light on the status of accounts run by Anjin, Marange Resources and DMC at BancABC.
Marange Resources and DMC are now defunct.
Mundiya, a former police officer, had stumbled upon the damning financial documents which, as his testimony in court showed, revealed the liquidity status of the diamond firms and how they could have systematically circumvented tax obligations.
At the time of his arrest in 2014, and subsequent acquittal, Mundiya was dragged to court on charges of attempting to extort US$82 200 from former BancABC executive Hashmon Matemera in exchange of the trove of documents.
Mundiya, who was acting on behalf of his security company, which collapsed under the weight of legal fees accrued from the lawsuit, insisted that he merely wanted to help the bank plug the alleged financial leakages.
Two years later, Matemera, who had then moved to the National Social Security Authority (Nssa), was arrested and dragged to the courts on charges of spiriting away US$330 million during his tenure at BancABC.
Investigations by this publication indicate that when Mundiya was arrested, the damning documents in his possession showing the alleged tax misconduct by the diamond firms, were submitted to Zimra, which over years has been a subject of scrutiny by the taxman.
Zimra, though it could not disclose the nature of information contained in the dossier as investigations unfold, confirmed that it had received the information from a whistleblower, who stands to pocket 10% of what would be recovered if the tax evasion charges are authenticated.
“As per the provisions of the Revenue Authority Act Chapter 23:11, information received through a whistleblower is actioned and necessary investigations conducted to ascertain the veracity of the information provided. The information can lead to recovery of additional taxes or no yield. The outcome of that investigation is communicated to the whistleblower,” Zimra said in response to inquiries by the Independent this week.
“The whistleblower brings to the attention of Zimra any suspected case on fiscal non-compliance, which information Zimra acts on to confirm or refute the non-compliance through investigations into the reported case. However, due to secrecy provisions of the Revenue Authority Act, I am not able to disclose the investigated outcome of the reported case.”
Reliable sources close to the ongoing Zimra investigations, which have drawn the intense interest of the military considering the stake it holds in the diamond industry, told the Independent this week that the documents seized from Mundiya six years ago formed the whistleblower’s report.
“Matemera had managed to intercept a trove of documents which potentially showed that a number of mining firms which were banking with BancABC could have been skipping their tax obligations running into millions of dollars,” a source said. “When he was arrested, the documents which exposed the tax evasion scandal, not only by the diamond mining firms but other players in the economy, were grabbed by the Central (sic) Investigations Department (CID) Serious Fraud unit. A female detective called Sergeant Ncube was the investigating officer. The documents could have been destroyed since there were big people involved in the matter.”
Matemera, the former BancABC executive, declined to discuss the matter, referring questions to the bank’s management.
“Check with the bank CEO,” Matemera responded to this publication’s enquiries via WhatsApp.
The Independent had sought, among other issues, to understand whether BancABC was prejudiced of any money based on the information contained in the financial documents and the exact details contained in the financial records of the companies.
When Mundiya was arrested by the CID Serious Fraud Squad, sources said, the ex-policeman, who was running a security consultancy firm had arranged a meeting with Matemera to alert the banker how their system was being manipulated.
“Mundiya, on the day of his arrest, had fixed a meeting with Matemera which he wanted to use as an opportunity to organise a contract for his security consultancy firm. He wanted to tip the former BancABC executive that something was not right with their system. He wanted to assist the bank with an investigation. Sadly, he was arrested on charges of attempting to extort money from BancABC,” a source with intimate details of the matter revealed.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said: “I have asked our CID to check on it. So currently I can’t confirm or deny. I am waiting for the guys to give us a response.”
BancABC executive Lance Mambondiani was also not available for comment.
Amid allegations of rampant pillaging of the country’s vast mineral resources, particularly diamonds, chrome and gold, Zimra has revealed that Zimbabwe loses an estimated US$5 billion annually to illicit financial flows.
The post Explosive dossier exposes Chiadzwa gems tax sleaze appeared first on The Zimbabwe Independent.