ACR, which recently won a High Court case to mine diamonds in Marange, has threatened to take OM to court over the matter.
OM through its 16% shareholding in the New Reclamation Group, a company that recently partnered government to extract diamonds in Marange, is now at the centre of an ownership dispute pitting government and ACR.
A letter dated November 17, from ACR chief Andrew Cranswick to OM reads: “I understand Old Mutual has a significant shareholding in the New Reclamation Group (pty) Ltd (“Reclam”) — 30 million shares is the figure I believe. I believe this represents some 16% and that Mr Quinton Dicks sits on their board in representation of Old Mutual’s interest.
“Furthermore, we understand that through a subsidiary, Grandwell Holdings Ltd, Mauritius, Reclam Holdings Ltd, Mauritius, Reclam have entered into an agreement with Marange Resources (Pvt) Ltd, a 100% subsidiary of Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC). This specifically enters into an agreement to mine on ACR’s mining claims, established in 2006 and the title thereto upheld in a recent High Court judgment — attached hereto.”
Cranswick said the joint venture between Grandwell and ZMDC was “lopsided” in favour of Reclamation in terms of marketing.
The ACR chief said the marketing arrangement was “a clear attempt” on the part of Reclamation “to steal a national asset value from the people of Zimbabwe”.
Cranswick also warned OM that both Marange Resources and ZMDC were under European Union and United States sanctions.
The letter explains: “In theory and in law the sanctions can and will be applied to partners thereof. I urge you to contact the various ambassadors or trade representatives thereof and confirm these facts.”
Cranswick urged OM to seek legal counsel on the matter saying the company would not get “legal nor material PR relief”.
“This company (ACR) is listed on the London Stock Exchange and we will seek redress and full damages from all participants, jointly and severally in every country including South Africa and the UK,” Cranswick threatened.
He also acclaimed that his company had sunk a lot of funds into exploration in the country in the past five years than its mining peers.
He added: “To have an important asset stolen from ACR and the people of Zimbabwe after this investment is immoral, unethical and illegal. I urge Old Mutual to take steps possible to rectify this abhorrent behaviour by Reclam and its subsidiaries.”
This is not the first time OM has been at the centre of controversy over its dealings in Zimbabwe.
Some years back, the company came under attack from shareholders and civil rights activists after it emerged the company owned a significant shareholding in state publisher, Zimpapers group.
Zimpapers runs newspapers seen to be blind supporters of President Robert Mugabe’s regime spewing propaganda against the opposition and perceived enemies of his government. Of late the civil society has upped the ante in their condemnation of OM investment but the conglomerate has defended its decision.