BancABC has closed Jinan Diamond Mining Company accounts in Zimbabwe and Zambia as an investigation into the externalisation of hundreds of millions of dollars in diamond proceeds goes international.
By Bernard Mpofu
The move comes as it emerged that Jinan did not externalise US$340 million as widely reported in the media but, in fact, siphoned US$585 million. This is the single largest probe of a diamond company since the official discovery of the Marange gem fields in 2009.
Senior managers at the bank told the Zimbabwe Independent that on July 8 the bank was served with another warrant of search and seizure in the same matter requesting certified copies of telegraphic transfer confirmations and payment instructions and withdrawal slips.
“The bank eventually collated all the information early this month (October) and submitted to the police. For now the bank can only wait for the investigations to proceed while its lawyers closely monitor the developments,” a senior manager said.
In May, former BancABC managing director Hashmon Matemera appeared at the Harare Magistrates’ Court charged with externalising the funds on behalf of Jinan during his period at the bank.
Allegations against Matemera are that he facilitated the externalisation of US$332 980 000 for Jinan to Botswana, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Dubai and China when he was still at the helm of BancABC in 2013.
However, investigations by the Independent show the amount concerned is much higher — over US$500 million.
Prosecutor Sabastian Mutizwa last Thursday told the court during Matemera’s trial that the investigation had been taken beyond the borders.
“Your worship, investigations in this case are still ongoing. The investigating team is set to travel to Sierra Leone, hence we seek a longer postponement of the case to December 8,” he said.
Sources privy to the developments said between January 2012 and July 2015, Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Company (AFECC), through a series of transactions, transferred funds amounting to US$585 163 824,26 into Jinan’s transitory account in Zimbabwe from China. The transitory account, sources say, was then closed on August 5 2014.
“On December 20 2011, Jinan Mining opened a transitory account with BancABC Zimbabwe for purposes of holding funds from and on behalf of AFECC. The funds were to be used to fund AFECC’s operations in the Southern African Region, including Zimbabwe,” one source said.
“AFECC, through a series of transactions, dating from January 9 2012 to July 25 2014, transferred funds amounting to US$585 163 824,26 into the Jinan Mining transitory account, from China. The transitory account was closed on August 5 2014.
“During the period which the transitory account was operational, that is January 9 2012 to July 25 2014, Jinan Mining was still going through the process of setting up the business and was not yet exporting minerals.
“An export-designated account was opened on December 20 2013 and the export proceeds were channelled through the export-designated account.”