Zimbabwe has reportedly lost US$23 million that had been attained from the sale of one million carats of diamonds from the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) recently.
The Independent’s Tinashe Makichi reports that the money could have been illegally moved out of the country.
It is alleged that a blacklisted Lebanese diamond dealer, Jamal Ahmed, used representatives to buy the diamonds.
High-level government investigators say Ahmed did not bring money to Zimbabwe but funds were secured locally from known money launderers, who would then get their money in offshore accounts with Ahmed allegedly getting a 3-5% commission.
Ahmed was once locked in a fierce court battle with former first lady Grace Mugabe over a US$1.4 million diamond ring.
The Independent says banking documents and deposit slips show that some of the funds were jointly deposited into the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) bank accounts allegedly by Diamore DMCC and NRTS on March 23, 2022.
It was deposited into Agribank and CBZ accounts in batches of varying denominations.
The quantity of smaller notes deposited by the two companies allegedly linked to Ahmed raised eyebrows in government corridors, prompting an investigation into the matter. The Independent was told:
Some of the funds were deposited as US$10 notes and looking at the quantum of the funds, a serious suspicion emerged as to how the monies were transported from outside the country. There are strong indications that the funds were secured locally by people who wanted to externalise their funds to offshore accounts.
That meant the country was selling diamonds at the same time losing about US$23 million through externalisation.
There are indications that the cash entry documents were stamped by customs officials after a suspected US$5 000 bribe. These stamps have been issued to the same customs official (name withheld), who is also under probe.
Indications are also that the last diamond buying firms allegedly linked to Ahmed had no documents from the country of origin to support that there was a movement of money to Zimbabwe. This sparked suspicion that no money was brought into the country.