Parly probes dodgy payments to shadowy Israeli firms

Parly probes dodgy payments to shadowy Israeli firms

HARARE, November 14 (The Source)- Zimbabwe’s parliament is probing a case of possible bribery and money laundering involving a state minerals marketing firm and two Israeli firms, following mysterious payments exceeding $1 million.

The parliamentary committee on mines heard that the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) had made payments amounting to $1.3 million to Glamer Limited through Israeli farm input firm Pedstock Investments.

Pedstock is a unit of Nikuv International Projects Limited, which gained notoriety among opposition groups in Zimbabwe after its alleged role in manipulating the country’s voter list ahead of the disputed 2013 election in which President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF regained untrammeled power following four years of sharing power with the opposition.

Payments to Pedstock and Glamer have been under the mines portfolio committee’s spotlight since June this year, when the permanent secretary in the ministry Francis Gudyanga, refused to disclose why he directed MMCZ to make the payments.

Appearing before the parliamentary committee on June 20, Gudyanga refused to give details of the transactions, which he said were sensitive.
“The issue is sensitive, so I cannot say much,” Gudyanga said, adding in his native Shona that sensitive matters of state were behind the payments. “Ndezvenyika izvi.”

State media reports have suggested the payments were made to the Israeli firm on behalf of the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s Minerals and Border Control Unit.
On Monday, Pedstock managing director Dror Jackson told the parliamentary committee that his company had only acted as a conduit through which the payments were done.

“Pedstock was only a conduit in this transaction. I do not know what the transaction was about…Pedstock was asked by Glamer and the Ministry of Mines to transfer the money through Pedstock,” said Jackson.

“Glamer approached me to do this service and I did it for a small fee…I do not have any information what the transaction was for.”
An internet search for Glamer did not provide much detail on the company, whose owner lives in Israel, according to Jackson.

Jackson said he agreed to the deal because of its Israeli links, adding that he had received a commission of 3 percent for his part in the transaction. Asked if he was aware that his firm had taken part in the externalisation of funds, Jackson said the transactions had central bank approval.

“I do not know why the Ministry and Glamer chose to do it this way….I was caught in the middle. When we did this transaction I was under the impression that I was doing a national service that is why i agreed to it,” Jackson said.

“We received a few transactions from Ministry of Mines totalling over $1 million and we paid to Glamer as per instructions. Some was transferred to Glamel account overseas and the rest was paid in cash.”

Daniel Shumba, the ZANU-PF chairman of the parliamentary committee, dismissed Jackson’s claims and charged that Pedstock had actively participated in what he described as a scam.

“There was no need for a middleman as you are pretending to be unless it was for illicit activities of which clearly it is….your role was simply to facilitate payment of bribes.”

The hearing was adjourned to November 28.