Sunday, February 13, 2011
US$100 million from diamond sales goes missing
US$100 million realised from the auction of the Marange diamonds last year has allegedly gone missing, The Standard can reveal.
The offense only came to light after the Ministry of Finance was given a schedule from President Robert Mugabe’s office written by the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe alleging that it had given US$170 million to treasury.
According to impeccable sources within the Ministry of Finance, treasury was never given any such amount by MMCZ last year.
Minister of Finance Tendai Biti on Friday said government only received US$64 million from MMCZ, which mined the precious stones through two joint venture companies.
Biti said he has since asked the accountant-general to lau-nch an investigation to trace the missing cash.
“We got a schedule from the office of the President written by MMCZ that claimed treasury had been directly and indirectly given US$170 million from the sale of alluvial and kimberlite diamonds,” he said.
“Treasury only received US$64 million from the sale of alluvial and kimberlite diamonds.
“In that schedule MMCZ claims that treasury used part of the money to pay tax to Zimra.
“I have asked the accountant-general to launch an investigation into the matter disapproving MMCZ claims.
“The investigation will show that we did not get the money and my question is where did the money go?”
Last week Biti told The Standard that although diamonds were being sold there was no accountability.
There has been speculation that Zanu PF was looting money from the sale of diamonds to finance its election campaign among other things.
Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Mines Gift Chimanikire said he was not aware of the transaction adding that all he had in his office was a summary of the movement of funds obtained from the sale of diamonds last year and January 2011.
Efforts to get a comment from Chimanikire’s boss Mpofu were fruitless as his mobile phone was not reachable.
Permanent Secretary Thankful Musukutwa refused to comment yesterday saying he was just arriving from South Africa and he was not aware of the matter.
Zimbabwe held two diamond auctions last year under the supervision of the Kimberly Process.
It has since emerged that a third auction was held secretly and the matter only came to light when Mugabe promised to give US$250 million to civil servants.