via Tycoon ‘feeds’ army – DailyNews Live by Tendai Kamhungira
Zimbabwean troops in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) were fed by controversial businessman John Bredenkamp, the High Court has been told.
In his evidence-in-chief against the controversial 73-year-old businessman, who is accused of a $4,2 million fraud, self-styled financier Yakub Ibrahim Mohammed told the High Court yesterday that the cash that Bredenkamp had borrowed for his DRC mine had been used to finance Zimbabwe army supplies through Raceview Enterprises (Raceview).
“I later realised that the company (Raceview) was set up for providing a feeding programme of the ministry of Defence,” he said, as Bredenkamp’s trial opened yesterday before High Court judge Felistas Chatukuta.
Asked by Bredenkamp’s lawyer Eric Matinenga, who appeared together with Innocent Chagonda and Deepak Mehta on where the misrepresentation which would constitute fraud was emanating from, Mohammed said when the businessman borrowed the money, it was on the basis that he was to fund his mining operations in the DRC but he discovered that Bredenkamp used the money to fund the army.
“At that particular time I considered the accused to be a man of integrity, honesty and a man of means and my friend,” Mohammed said.
Mohammed said he only decided to take legal action against Bredenkamp in 2008 after he realised the businessman was failing to pay back the money.
According to Mohammed, the civil court proceedings were abandoned after an agreement for an out-of-court settlement was proposed.
Mohammed said after he realised that Bredenkamp was failing to pay back the money as per promise, he instituted criminal proceedings.
He said the Attorney General’s office declined to prosecute the matter in 2009, on the basis that the case was civil in nature and that it involved national interest.
Mohammed, however said despite numerous requests for his money, Bredenkamp continued making excuses, despite having paid back $400 000 in 2001.
Mohammed said Bredenkamp accused him of telling various people in the community that he had lent him money.
“One particular person was Billy Rautenbach. It was at that time that he and Rautenbach had a bad relationship,” Mohammed said. For long, considered one of Britain and Europe’s richest men, Bredenkamp made a payment attempt in 2006, the court heard.
Mohammed told the court that his bank returned the money, after it emerged that the businessman was under fraud investigations in the United Kingdom.
Allegations against the businessman arose when Mohammed advanced the foreign cash component from proceeds of his Sahawi International (Private) Limited cigarette trading business in South Africa.
Bredenkamp — famous for his helicopter shuttles in Harare — had promised to pay back the money after disposing off his Kababankola Mining Company in the DRC.
According to the agreement between the two businessmen, the advance was to attract a six percent interest per year, capitalised on a monthly basis and Bredenkamp also stands accused of obtaining this money without the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s exchange control approval.
In the same court papers, it was said that Mohammed imported cigarettes into the country under a Zimbabwe Revenue Authority bond at Bak Storage and upon selling them within the southern African region, he got substantial amounts of forex.
At the time, the country was still using the Zimbabwean dollar.
Bredenkamp denied defrauding Mohammed, claiming he did not borrow the money in his personal capacity.
He told the court that the matter was civil and was still pending in the courts.
“As further particulars are still pending, accused is unable to specifically address the timing of the alleged intention to defraud and the exact nature of the misrepresentation he allegedly made.
“This prosecution is malicious and a gross abuse of the court’s process,” Bredenkamp’s lawyers said.
His defence outline further reads, “Accused will say that a company in which a family trust had a substantial interest KMC Limited then carrying out mining operations in the DRC, borrowed money to finance its operations in the DRC and to finance other related companies of which some were supplying goods and services during Zimbabwe’s DRC campaign.”
He also denied contravening the Exchange Control Regulations and said Mohammed and his friends were the ones who were involved in an externalisation ring.
Editor Mavuto, Michael Reza and Innocent Chingarande appeared for the State.