via New twist to diamonds saga – DailyNews Live by Xolisani Ncube 21 SEPTEMBER 2013
The raging diamonds saga has taken a new twist with fresh reports indicating that the Ghanaian investors at the centre of the $6 million bribery scam could have used large sums of cash to illegally deal in gold in a desperate bid to raise money needed to fund the diamond project.
Besides illegally dealing in gold, the Ghanaians reportedly used millions of dollars operating a micro-finance company in Eastlea where they were dishing out vast sums of money to individuals and businessmen at exorbitant interest rates.
Ghanaian businessmen William Atto Essien and Kingsley Ghansah claim that they bribed former Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) chairman Godwills Masimirembwa after they failed to raise the initial $15 million investment capital required to mine diamonds in Chiadzwa.
President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday stunned the nation when he claimed that Masimirembwa had extorted $6 million from the Ghanaian investors, a charge he strenuously denies saying he is ready to explain to the president and the nation who benefitted what from the Ghanaians.
Fresh information obtained by the Daily News indicates that one of them, Ghansah was last year in April convicted at the magistrates’ courts of illegally dealing in gold and was jailed for five years.
But in October the same year, Ghansah was released on appeal at the High Court.
But the High Court release order seen by the Daily News does not have the name of the judge and bears two stamps one dated October 18, 2012 and the other October 16, 2012.
The judgment reads: “The following is ordered for the release of Kingsley Atta Ghansah after completion and acquittal of appellant. 1. The sum of US$10 000 being held as recognisance for bail. 2. The sum of US$33 000 which was being held as security. 3. The Exhibit being 7 smelted gold buttons and 4 smelted gold bars weighing 7,189 kg. 4. Ghananian passport of appellant.”
Contacted for comment on the authenticity of Ghansah’s acquittal yesterday, Judge President Justice Chiweshe said: “You need to come to my office or check with the registrar and it can’t be today because I am out of office.”
According to information sniffed by the Daily News yesterday, top government officials are now divided over how to handle the Masimirembwa issue with those fighting in his camp saying actually the Ghanaians spent most of their cash illegally trading in gold and were now covering their tracks by claiming that the money was used to bribe people.
A top government source yesterday said Masimirembwa had maintained his innocence and reportedly told his close associates that he was being nailed because the Ghanaians were in the process of being booted out after failing to raise the required capital.
“The challenge with this issue is that the Ghanaians are not here to act as complainants because they themselves might be arrested for their illegal dealings here including gold. Kingsley for example, walked out of jail in circumstances which still need to be verified and Essien is not sure what will happen to him.
“This case is complicated in that while the president has ordered action against Masimirembwa, it is not easy to pin him down because he will certainly not go alone. He has in the past said he is aware of who benefitted what from the Ghanaians and now it appears that the Ghanaians could have brought cash into the country but they used it for something else suspected to be gold dealing as evidenced by the conviction of Ghansah,” said the top government source.
Investigations by the Daily News have revealed that the Ghanaians —Essien and Ghansah — only brought in $5 million which was a commitment investment, prompting local investors in the joint venture Blessmore Chanakira and Itai Munyeza to put their properties on the block to borrow $10 million, which was used to purchase plant equipment to mine diamonds from Block G Concession in Marange area.
According to agreements seen by the Daily News, the Ghanaians and their Zimbabwean counterparts were supposed to invest a total of $110 million with the initial investment pegged at $15 million which they failed to raise.
After failing to raise the rest of the amount, Munyeza and Chanakira, using their investment vehicle, Danto Investments, borrowed the $10 million which was quickly swallowed in the project.
There are escalating fears that they could lose the properties they used as collateral.
Under the deal, ZMDC strategically partnered with Bill Minerals, whose majority shareholder was First Capital Plus Zimbabwe.