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Chiyangwa’s problems mount

Gift Phiri

EMBATTLED Zanu PF tycoon Phillip Chiyangwa — currently held on espionage charges — could find himself in even greater difficulty amid revelations this week that he

is being investigated for allegedly externalising US$200 000 between 2001 and last year.

Confidential documents to hand reveal that Chiyangwa was allowed by the central bank to move money to Namibia, ostensibly to invest in a joint venture company there.

Nothing has come of the envisaged deal and the foreign currency has not been repatriated to Zimbabwe, it has been disclosed.

Chiyangwa together with four others are in prison after they were remanded in custody, facing charges of selling state secrets.

The Independent was yesterday told that the funds were remitted to Namibia but the joint venture was aborted and the capital was not repatriated. It is understood that Chiyangwa, through his investment vehicle, Native Investments Africa (Pvt) Ltd, wanted to forge an alliance with a Namibian company, Namibia Northern Investment Group (NNIG).

AR Project Services (ARPS) Namibia, a wholly owned subsidiary of ARPS Ltd, a company incorporated in South Africa and owned by self-exiled tycoon Mutumwa Mawere, was appointed the project consultant on behalf of NNIG.

ARPS was charged with the responsibility of assisting in negotiations with Crittal Hope, a subsidiary of Chiyangwa’s Native Investments. The Zimbabwe Independent understands that the management of the envisaged joint venture company was to be assigned to ARPS.

A memorandum of understanding was in December 2000 signed by Native Investments Africa (Pvt) Ltd Zimbabwe on behalf of Crittal Hope Zimbabwe, represented by Chiyangwa, and NNIG represented by the group chairman, Kelly Nghixulifwa.

Documents in our possession reveal that Native Investments had undertaken to provide plant machinery and necessary technical assistance while NNIG was to provide buildings and working capital for the envisaged joint venture. Both parties agreed to retain the services of ARPS Namibia, represented by Sebil Dhewa as a consultant during the preparation and up to the commencement of business after which date ARPS Namibia was to be retained as management contractor.

The Independent understands that the joint venture partners agreed to register a company called Crittal-Hope Namibia (Pty) Ltd in which Nghixulifwa was the public officer and Dhewa the managing director. Chiyangwa in July 2001 went on to open a bank account in Namibia at Standard Bank, Gustav Voigts branch in Windhoek.

He later sought permission from the Bank of Namibia to operate a foreign currency account. In his application to the Reserve Bank of Namibia, Chiyangwa stated that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had approved the movement of US$200 000 under authority GC3148. The money was to be used by Chiyangwa for the preliminary costs of the joint venture. The RBZ is understood to have demanded quarterly progress reports on the envisaged alliance.

Gono’s spokesman Fortune Chasi yesterday confirmed that the central bank had granted Chiyangwa the authority.

“He wanted to invest outside the country,” Chasi said. “Remember the RBZ is the forex authority.”

The Independent understands that the Bank of Namibia approved the opening of the account under application number 547. The approval letter emphasised it was issued under “highly exceptional circumstances”.

Meanwhile, Chiyangwa had written to Standard Bank in Namibia requesting that he alone operated Crittal-Hope (Pty) Ltd’s foreign currency account (FCA) and that he alone be the sole signatory.

The Independent was told that authority was granted and Chiyangwa operated a current account whose number was given as 04 272 6085. An FCA account was also opened with Chiyangwa as the sole signatory. The FCA account number was given as 022/20/101369/01.

It is understood that Chiyangwa proceeded to deposit several US$20 000 bank drafts issued by at least three Zimbabwean banks, namely Zimbank, Barclays Bank, and Jewel bank. It is understood that Chiyangwa then transferred N$154 950 from the FCA to the current account. The balance in the current account as at December 24 2004 stood at N$16 807 (US$2 800).

The Independent understands that a total of N$1 252 472 (US$208 745) was transferred from the FCA account to the current account as of last year.

The entire amount was withdrawn from Standard Bank.

Mawere yesterday declined to comment on the matter.

 Meanwhile, Mawere’s attempts to stop insurer ZHL Holdings Ltd’s rights issue extraordinary meeting, scheduled for today, faltered last night after the High Court threw out his application to halt the process.

In the application filed by THZ, Mawere had argued that the company was being prejudiced by the rights offer. Justice Bharat Patel dismissed the application.

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