Govt says investigating Murowa Diamonds ownership change

Govt says investigating Murowa Diamonds ownership change

HARARE, April 06(The Source) – Government is investigating the circumstances under which the ownership of Midlands-based gem miner Murowa Diamonds changed hands last year, Parliament heard on Wednesday.

As at mid-last year, Rinto Tinto PLC held a 78 percent stake in the Zvishavane based miner while its local unit, Rio Zim, owned the remainder.

The global mining giant however exited Zimbabwe at the end of June, disposing of its stake in Murowa and a 50 percent shareholding in Sengwa Coal to RZ Murowa Holdings Limited.

Details on the ownership of RZ Murowa Holdings are unclear, but a statement issued by Rio Tinto at the time of the sale suggested it is an entity controlled by the Zimbabwean-listed RioZim, whose largest shareholders are Harpal Randhawa’s GEM (24 percent) and Old Mutual, with 11 percent shareholding.

In its financial results for the year to December 31 last year released last month, RioZim indicated that its shareholding in the diamond miner remainedat 22,2 percent.

In Wednesday’s question and answer session in Parliament, Zvishavane-Ngezi legislator John Holder asked the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to explain why it had allowed the sale ofMurowa Diamonds “to foreigners”.

In response, deputy Mines Minister Fred Moyo said the ownership change was currently under investigation as it happened outside the country.

“Ownership of mines and change of ownership depends on where the shares are being held,” Moyo said in a brief response.

“The shares were held offshore and we are still investigating the manner in which the shares changed hands outside the country.”