The $100m loan that allegedly helped Mugabe steal 2008 elections

via Did US investors flout sanctions to help Mugabe?   Mail & Guardian


Authorities have been urged to investigate a hedge fund after it funded a $100m loan that allegedly helped Mugabe to steal the 2008 elections.

United States authorities have been urged to investigate a New York hedge fund for sanctions-busting after it funded a $100-million loan that allegedly helped Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to steal the 2008 elections.

The Mail & Guardian revealed last year that Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, one of the world’s largest asset managers, was the mystery investor whose purchase of $150-million of stock in a controversial mining firm enabled the latter to throw Mugabe’s regime a $100-million (about R1-billion now) lifeline in return for platinum mining rights.

Contrary to listing rules, Och-Ziff’s stock purchase was not disclosed at the time. The loan allegedly made it possible for Zimbabwe’s functionally bankrupt regime to embark on a campaign of mass intimidation and vote-buying ahead of the 2008 presidential run-off, leading frontrunner Morgan Tsvangirai to withdraw, handing the election to Mugabe.

Now a British nongovernmental organisation working on human rights in business has built on the M&G exposé, showing that Och-Ziff may have broken US sanctions by making the transfer. It has called on the US treasury, which monitors the sanctions, to investigate.

The US instituted targeted financial sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2003, prohibiting transactions with Mugabe and others it accused of “undermining democratic processes or institutions”. These were extended in 2008, not long after the elections, to bar transactions with any senior government official and many others allegedly responsible for human rights violations.

The NGO, Rights and Accountability in Development (Raid), said in a report last week that “there is evidence that finance originating from Och-Ziff went to the government of Zimbabwe; and that the government of Zimbabwe is synonymous with the Mugabe/Zanu-PF regime – comprising sanctions targets – who used the finance to undermine democracy, commit human rights abuses and retain power for their own benefit”.

The report held that “specifically designated nationals” (SDNs) named in the US sanctions were “directly implicated in the planning and orchestration” of Operation Makavhoterapapi, the intimidation campaign in 2008.

And “not only did SDNs benefit from the loan, but certain designated entities were parties” to the platinum rights transaction for which Och-Ziff’s money was used.

The report conceded that timing might have been crucial in this respect. The state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, which was central to the transaction, was designated on July 25 2008, only three months after Och-Ziff’s stock purchase.

Raid said it had written to the US treasury to ask that it investigate whether US sanctions were broken, and to Och-Ziff to clarify questions including the nature of the due diligence it had done before the transaction; the purpose and timing of its investment; and “the extent to which it knew, or should have known, that it was providing funds whose ultimate beneficiary was the Mugabe regime and SDNs”.

Och-Ziff has maintained that it was no more than a passive investor, implicitly pointing fingers at the Central African Mining and Exploration Company (Camec), the London-listed firm in which it invested and which in turn provided the loan to the regime as part payment for platinum rights.

This week a spokesperson said: “Och-Ziff has no connection to Zimbabwe politics whatsoever and made no loan to Camec. The firm was among many institutional investors who participated in a private placement of shares in a London-listed public company [Camec], and as a passive investor had no role in the direction of the company.”

There is evidence, however, that Och-Ziff’s investment in Camec was not so passive.

Och-Ziff’s $150-million dwarfed the $50-million in total invested in the same Camec share issue by other investors. It is very unlikely Och-Ziff would have committed so much capital without interrogating how Camec would use the money.

A Camec regulatory announcement in early March 2008 stated that the original purpose of the new share issue was to raise cash to develop Camec assets in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But on March 28, a day before the first round of elections in Zimbabwe, Camec put out another announcement saying that it had “further discussions with the placees [the would-be investors] regarding the multiple investment opportunities available to the company in Africa”.

On April 11 – as the regime was holding out against announcing election results that showed Zanu-PF had lost its parliamentary majority and Mugabe was trailing presidential challenger Morgan Tsvangirai – Camec announced the Zimbabwean platinum rights acquisition, to be paid for partly by providing the $100-million loan to the regime.

The implication of Camec’s two statements is that it consulted Och-Ziff about using its money in Zimbabwe rather than in the Congo.

In the weeks following the transaction, pending the presidential run-off, Operation Makavhoterapapi went into overdrive.



  • comment-avatar
    Mugabe forever 10 years ago

    Amen ……….. I too was born in 1976. I am a black Zimbabwean who also went to school with whites, blacks mixed race and even chinese. In those days, few people cared too much about color. It is unfortunate that the world is trying to paint our president as a racist when he is only trying to correct historical wrongs. I too hope for a multi-racial Zimbabwe with no potholes lol 😀

  • comment-avatar
    Kevin Watson 10 years ago

    The Chairman of CAMEc in 2008 was former England cricketer who grew up in Zambia Phil Edmonds. In the backround is the malign influence of Billy Rautenbach who had to flee South Africa after being sought for tax and commercial fraud. It would appear that they are interested parties hence the fraud.

  • comment-avatar
    jongwe power 10 years ago

    “United States authorities have been urged to investigate a New York hedge fund for sanctions-busting after it funded a $100-million loan that allegedly helped Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to steal the 2008 elections.”

    If the Americans aren’t bothering to investigate this so-called “hedge fund”, then that means they have no problem with what is going on in Zimbabwe. If they let this Nikuv company do their thing (and by the way, Israel is ethnically the 51st U.S. state), then that means the Americans have no problem with the 2013 elections.

    The problem is that nobody wants to hear the truth because it hurts like hell. If the U.S. really had an issue with the way things are going in Zim, they would have done a whole lot more about it a long, LONG time ago already. Think about it, brothers and sisters. We are talking about a country that has its hands in most countries’ affairs via puppets, the CIA, and media.

    Or could it be that the Americans don’t want to displease the Chinese, whom are equally as powerful, and are capable of doing some damage to the U.S. economy if they interfere?