… dodgy funds splurged with reckless abandon
FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe’s first born son, Russell Goreraza (33), and his business partner Valentine Gaucho imported seven top-of-the-range vehicles worth about US$2,5 million after brokering a controversial mining deal between government and a Kazakhstan company, Todal Mining, which owns platinum concessions between Shurugwi and Zvishavane, the Zimbabwe Independent can exclusively reveal.
By Elias Mambo
This comes against a backdrop of reports that Goreraza this week took ownership of two Rolls Royce limousines — one for Gaucho and the other for himself — after receiving two 2017 Range Rovers and two Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan cars. A top-of-the-range Aston Martin is on its way.
Investigations by this paper showed the two Rolls Royces cost US$685 000, Range Rovers US$200 000, Mercedes-Benz S-Class US$260 000, while the Aston Martin is valued at US$150 000.
Informed sources said the Aston Martin — made by British manufacturer of luxury sports cars and grand tourers — will be taken by Gaucho, who already drives a Porsche Cayenne, Rolls Royce, BMW X5 new model and a Mercedes-Benz AMG S65 Coupe.
Goreraza has in his carport two Range Rovers, a Mercedes-Benz S-Class and the new Rolls Royce. The two youthful businessmen and dealers have cars which even local chief executives of big companies cannot afford.
Todal was once partly owned by Zanu PF benefactor Billy Rautenbach through Lefever, a subsidiary of Central African Mining and Exploration Company (Camec) in which his family had an interest. Camec was listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE)’s subsidiary market, Alternative Investment Market from 2002-2009.
Camec and Rautenbach then sold Todal to a Kazakhstan FTSE-listed mining consortium, Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC), in November 2009. ENRC paid US$945 million to Camec.
However, sources said government was not happy with Rautenbach’s disposal of concessions to ENRC as it was done without ministerial approval and thus not procedural or illegal. This prompted a crisis after the deal was consummated at the LSE.
“Rautenbach was given the platinum concessions by government to offset a debt. He then transferred the claims to Camec, which partly owned Todal, as he also had an interest in those companies,” a source said. “The claims were later sold by Camec on the LSE to the Kazakh company. However, government was opposed to this as it was unlawful and bordered on speculation. The indigenisation policy was also violated and relevant taxes were also not paid. This prompted government to refuse to allow ENRC to mine and this is where behind-the-scenes brokerage by Gaucho and Goreraza, working with high profile and powerful networks, comes in.”
The Independent previously reported that during the March 2008 elections, Lefever Finance, a Rautenbach-linked enterprise, advanced President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF a US$100 million loan for their ill-fated campaign.
But government failed to repay the money and Rautenbach was given platinum claims to offset the debt. This was after government had repossessed 30% of the claims held by Anglo America.
Under pressure, Anglo American Platinum, the world’s top platinum producer, ceded more than a quarter of its concessions in Zimbabwe to the government.
In return, Anglo was granted empowerment credits and foreign exchange indulgences that would allow it to develop a valuable remaining concession.
Immediately after Anglo’s concession had been seized, government awarded them to Todal, a joint venture between the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (40%) and Lefever Finance (60%).
Lefever was owned by the opaque Meryweather Investments, registered in the British Virgin Islands. Although Meryweather’s ownership remained a mystery, it was associated with Rautenbach.
Lefever was also partly owned by Camec, which had vast mining interests in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Through money from an American hedge-fund, Camec then advanced Lefever a US$100 million in March 2008 to lend the Zimbabwe government.
After the loan Camec, now representing Lefever together with ZMDC, received the platinum concessions.
In exchange for investing in Camec, Rautenbach got 13% in Camec through Meryweather.
Prior to the Todal-Lefever deal, Rautenbach in 2007 had sold two of his DRC companies to Camec via his family company, Harvest View Ltd, which enabled him to gain 7,4% equity.
With a 20-year mine life, Todal was expected produce an average of 150 000 tonnes of platinum ore per month, but it first required a US$250 million investment to revive the plant.
The expensive vehicles, according to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority sources, were imported and delivered without the payment of US$$1 126 650 duty.
“Duty is calculated at 87% (US$2,1 million), so they did not pay duty for the vehicles even though they did not have exemption of duty certificates,” a source said.
Investigations by the Independent show Goreraza and Gaucho approached Mines minister Walter Chidhakwa, who is related to Mugabe and his wife Grace, to help sign special mining rights for Todal to start working.
As a result, in May cabinet gave Todal approval to mine.
Chidhakwa confirmed at the time the company, jointly owned by a Kazakh investor and the Kazakhstan government, purchased the concessions from Camec through the LSE.
“There is a company that will be mining platinum very close to Chachacha in Zvishavane. This is a platinum resource which was allocated to a local company some time ago and the company went on to dispose of it on the London Stock Exchange,” Chidhakwa was quoted as saying at the time.
“These new investors recently approached us claiming the concession and indicated that they have since spent in excess of US$60 million on the ground through sinking two shafts and other developments.
“Cabinet was very unhappy about the part that the concession had actually been sold but it was agreed that they go on to mine.”
In an interview yesterday, Chidhakwa said he met the owner of ENRC, Victor Hanna, when he came to introduce his company after acquiring the claims.
“I met Victor Hanna who told me that he had acquired the Todal shares from Camec,” Chidhakwa said. “I told him that the sale of the shares was illegal because the previous owner did not have a ministerial approval to dispose his share on the London Stock Exchange.
“I also told him that despite the fact that he had commenced mining the whole process was not procedural because they had no special grant requird. I then took the issue to cabinet where I explained the investor’s position.
“Cabinet, however, approved that they should proceed with their operations and we issued them with special grant.”
On being asked whether he met Gaucho and Goreraza or their handlers who facilitated the deal, Chidhakwa said he only met the company owners.
“Unless they met officials in my ministry, as for me I only met the original company owner, Victor Hanna, who then came with his team later on,” he said.
ENRC is linked to Hanna who has been under United Kingdom investigation for serious fraud over his acquisition of copper and cobalt mining projects in the DRC.
A government source said: “Gaucho and Goreraza were involved in the deal and those cars were bought from money paid as facilitation fees. The deal included high profile officials and clandestine networks.”
Efforts to get comment from Goreraza and Gaucho were unsuccessful.