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Ex Zim mines minister to testify in $2bn diamond fraud case, accused of demanding backhander - report

09 july 2014

Zimbabwe’s former mines minister Obert Mpofu will be summoned to court to testify in a $2 billion diamond fraud case in which Core Mining and Mineral Resources director Lovemore Kurotwi accused him of soliciting for a $10 million bribe.
Core Mining and Mineral Resources jointly owned Canadile Miners (now Marange Resources) with the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC).
Kurotwi and the former ZMDC chief executive Dominic Mubaiwa are being tried on allegations of defrauding Harare of $2 billion in the diamond deal, reports The Herald newspaper.
They allegedly misrepresented to the government that Core Mining was a special purpose investment vehicle of Beny Steinmetz Group Resources (BSGR).
It later turned out that BSGR had nothing to do with Core Mining and that the firm had no capacity to bankroll the massive project as promised.
Harare claimed it suffered prejudice to the tune of $2 billion.
However, it emerged during the trial that Mpofu had demanded a $10 million bribe from the Core Mining directors.
As a result, the National Prosecution Authority would summon Mpofu to testify in the case.
“In the chambers we sought postponement of the matter to enable the State to subpoena former Mines and Mining Development Minister Honourable Obert Mpofu and record a statement from him,” said State lawyer, chief law officer Chris Mutangadura.
“Justice [Chinembiri] Bhunu granted the application and the court will resume on July 23 when we intend to bring the witness.”
The Herald reports that the court heard that Mpofu, on two occasions, asked for money from Kurotwi after the finalisation of the joint venture agreement.
“After signing the MoU, the minister said these words (to my recollection) ‘vakomana ini ndapedza rangu basa. Chindipai mari yangu’ (‘gentlemen I have done my part, can you now pay me?’),” Kurotwi said through his lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa.
“These words were in reference to a previous communication I had had with him during the negotiation, wherein he alluded to his desire to be paid if there was successful conclusion of an agreement.”
It was alleged that Mpofu continued with his demand as he demanded again in South Africa that he get paid before the signing of the shareholder’s agreement.
The court also heard from Mubaiwa’s lawyer that Core Mining was known as the “Minister’s project” and that Mpofu pressurized ZMDC to sign the agreement and at times he used threats.
Mpofu was also said to be the one who recommended the partnership deal to President Robert Mugabe before the ZMDC board deliberated on other potential investors, The Herald reports.

Mathew Nyaungwa, Editor in Chief of the African Bureau, Rough&Polished