Police complete US$585m siphoning probe

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THE Zimbabwe Republic Police has wrapped up investigations into a case where Jinan Diamond Mining Company externalised US$585 million under questionable circumstances. The Chinese diamond company is being investigated for siphoning funds to Botswana, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Dubai and China during the time it operated in the Chiadzwa area of Manicaland.

By Hazel Ndebele

This news article is part of an ongoing ground-breaking investigation into the Marange alluvial diamonds discovery and subsequent plunder at various stages by state and non-state actors. The special series is supported by the Investigative Journalism Fund.

The Jinan case is the single largest probe of a diamond company since the official discovery of the Marange gem fields in 2009.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Senior Assistant Commisioner Charity Charamba confirmed that the investigations had been concluded and that the police had since forwarded the matter to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
“The police have finished investigations on the Jinan externalisation case and on July 4 we forwarded the dockets to the NPA, therefore if you want more information you can contact them,” said Charamba.

The NPA’s role is to weigh and evaluate the information given to them by the police, which will inform the decision as to whether to prosecute or not.

Commercial bank BancABC is said to have facilitated the transactions through which the diamond company externalised the funds. The bank is accused of having failed to inform the central bank about the movement of the cash outside the country at the time. BancABC subsequently closed Jinan’s accounts in Zimbabwe and Zambia during investigations.
Senior managers at BancABC told the Zimbabwe Independent last year that in July 2016, the bank was served with a second warrant of search and seizure in the 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 last year) 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 then.

In May last year, 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 helm of 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 in charge of BancABC in 2013. However, investigations by the Independent showed that the amount concerned was actually US$585 million.

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.”

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