By Alex Bell
SW Radio Africa
06 May 2014
The US and UK authorities have both been called on to investigate an American assets management firm, which has been accused of directly funding the Robert Mugabe regime.
The Och Ziff Company was last year revealed as the ‘silent’ financer of a $100 million loan that was used to help ZANU PF cling to power in 2008. The Och Ziff group paid out the money as part of a ‘share purchase’ in a shadowy mining firm with ZANU PF connections.
That mining firm, the London listed Central African Mining and Exploration Company (CAMEC), used this share payment as a ‘loan’ to the ZANU PF government, through the state run Zimbabwe Mining and Development Corporation (ZMDC). The whole deal was done ‘legitimately’ as a business arrangement, with CAMEC buying out a ZMDC partner that together held the rights to platinum concessions in Zimbabwe.
This deal was being organised as Zimbabwe headed to the 2008 elections, which saw Mugabe losing to the MDC-T’s Morgan Tsvangirai. What followed those elections was an exercise in systematic murder, torture, brutality, intimidation and harassment by ZANU PF, ahead of an election run off, which eventually went ahead with Mugabe as the single participant after Tsvangirai had no choice but to pull out of the vote.
A British nongovernmental organisation called Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID) have now repeated calls for an investigation into Och Ziff, detailing in a new report other suspicious deals and partnerships the company had financed in Africa.
“The key question for us is whether a loan from Och Ziff to CAMEC actually was in breach of US sanctions against Zimbabwe, because CAMEC then loaned that money to Mugabe before the 2008 elections,” Said Tricia Feeney, the Executive Director of RAID.
She said that the US and UK government’s must “stop turning a blind eye” and probe the ‘loan’.
The funds that went via Och Ziff, ended up helping Mugabe to power and in violation of existing US and EU sanctions. We want that looked into and we’ve repeated our request to the US Treasury and the UK authorities to examine it,” Feeney said.
She went on to explain that Och Ziff has been “less than frank” on its involvement with CAMEC.
“They’ve given no explanation why, when the impact of the loan was revealed, and who was behind the deal, they took no action to withdraw themselves from the investment in Zimbabwe. So there are still a lot of questions to ask,” Feeney said.
RAID is also urging the authorities to examine other deals Och Ziff was involved in between 2008 and 2013, after it set up a UK based ‘fund’ linked to a South African investment company, using Och Ziff capital.
“Och Ziff embarked on a serious of deals, pumping money and enabling deals, buying out assets in places like the DRC and Guinea, which were bad for the country concerned and deals struck with questionable people,” Feeney said.
She added: “Och Ziff has not shown it is doing proper due diligence, and the time has come for the authorities to stop turning a blind eye to the situation.”