THE Ministry of Environment, Water Resources and Climate has dissolved the board of Allied Timbers Holdings, a State- owned plantation development, timber and pole processor, after an audit allegedly unearthed serious corrupt activities feared to have prejudiced the firm of millions of dollars.
It has also emerged that Government has also launched a forensic investigation into Allied Timbers Botswana amid allegations group chief executive Dr Joseph Kanyekanye attempted to suppress evidence on his alleged shady dealings at the firm.
The Allied Timbers board of directors was appointed into office 12 years ago.
The board was chaired Mr Livingstone Gwata, deputised by Mr Lovemore Mandimika with ex-Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Dr Joseph Kanyekanye (CEO), Mrs Vela Mupawose, Mr Rungano Mbire and one Mr Mudzamiri completing the board. Commercial lawyer Addington Chinake used to sit on the board but resigned citing unprofessionalism in the board.
Although the Ministry “fixed” January 19, 2014 as the date on which the board’s term of office expires, sources have indicated the board dissolution has already been effected.
Sources familiar with the developments said the Government was “unhappy” with the way the company was being run, after a number of board oversight deficiencies were noted in the audit. This is said to have created loopholes for corruption.
The audit was conducted by BDO Zimbabwe two months ago, but while it exonerated Dr Kanyekanye Government expressed reservations why it was carried out while the chief executive remained on duty with suspicion rife he could have influenced its findings.
“There was an audit conducted that unearthed massive corrupt activities which has led the company into financial dire straits, hence dissolution of the board,” said one source.
“There is strong feeling within Government that Dr Kanyekanye should have been sent on leave to allow for the independent audit and avoid tempering of evidence to alter the result.
“Officials from the Comptroller General have gone to Botswana to carry out a forensic audit on Allied Timbers Botswana after Dr Kanyekanye tried to destroy evidence of his shady dealings with the local company’s subsidiary,” the source said.
Secretary for Environment, Water and Climate Mr Prince Mupazviriho refused to comment when contacted yesterday, referring the matter to Minister Saviour Kasukuwere who confirmed the dissolution.
Dr Kanyekanye could neither confirm nor deny. “At this point in time, I am not aware of that. It might have happened during the holidays.”
Sources said Allied Timbers was on the brink of collapse due to corruption and abuse of power by directors who are feared to have prejudiced the company of more than US$5 million.
Workers at the company once raised concerns about the manner in which the company was being run.
Documents in our possession allege that Dr Kanyekanye had been siphoning funds from the company’s Botswana business, now under investigation.
“Revenue to the tune of about US$5 million was not acquitted to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe as required.
“The money could not be accounted for (and) RBZ is investigating the matter,” reads part of a complaint about maladministration and corruption at the company.
The letter noted bad governance at the company, citing nepotism with Mr Kanyekanye alleged to have awarded key tenders to a company owned by Mr Mbire.
Dr Kanyekanye is also said to have used his influence during his tenure as Rainbow Tourism Group and Capital Bank chairman to line deals for Mr Mbire’s financial consultancy company Pace Consultancy.
Pace Consultancy also did some work for Allied Timbers Holdings, including auditing accounts for the group’s Botswana business.
“Kanyekanye used his influence at NSSA (National Social Security Authority) to have his accomplice Mbire appointed to the boards at RTG, Star Africa and Capital bank,” the letter said.
The document alleges Dr Kanyekanye flouted internal tender procedures by awarding contracts to his close friends and relatives.
Further, he is alleged to have interests in a number of companies contracted by Allied Timbers, including the one owned by his young brother called TS Timbers.
“His brother Chenjerai Kanyekanye has a milling contract with Stappleford, where he earns 30 percent of share without incurring harvesting, skidding, transport, electricity and machinery repairs costs.
“The costs are met by Allied Timbers, in other words Kanyekanye is stealing using his brother as a front which is pure fraud.”
Shocking details on how Dr Kanyekanye abused the company’s funds to finance his wife’s business were also given.
According to the document, US$47 000 in duty was disbursed to clear a clothing consignment belonging to Dr Kanyekanye’s wife from China.
“About US$47 000 in duty was disbursed to cover the wife’s expenses.
“The finance director Peter Mhini was forced to pay by Kanyekanye,” the document said.
Dr Kanyekanye has faced similar allegations at Capital Bank.
Apart from the corrupt activities, some Allied Timbers executives were accused of incompetence after leading the company to a rut.
Currently, it owes creditors and former workers thousands for unfair labour practices and is bleeding profusely from litigations. Allied Timbers spokesperson Ms Veronica Gutu said she does not have authority to comment on shareholders’ issues.