Chinese siphon US$255m diamond cash from Zimbabwe

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SOGECOA Zimbabwe Limited, a subsidiary of Chinese diamond mining company Anjin Investments, salted away more than US$255 million from diamond proceeds via BancABC, the Zimbabwe Independent has reported.

Anjin Investments, a joint venture between the Anhui Foreign Economic Construction (Group) Co Ltd (Afec), and Matt Bronze Enterprises, which was formed by the Defence ministry and the Zimbabwe Defence Forces through Glass Finish Investments (Pvt) Ltd, formed Sogecoa Zimbabwe Limited which opened various bank accounts with BancABC, which was used to siphon millions of dollars.

This news article is part of an ongoing ground-breaking investigation into the Marange alluvial diamonds discovery and subsequent plunder at various stages by state and non-state actors. The special series is supported by the Investigative Journalism Fund.

Bank statements obtained from BancABC this week show that Anjin and Jinan, both Chinese companies, transferred millions of dollars to their subsidiary firm before the money was electronically wired to banks outside Zimbabwe.

This came at a time the government was asking questions as to whether diamond companies paid their taxes and royalties.

Sogecoa, investigations show, was a company whose activities were outside mining but rather concentrated on investing the mining proceeds into construction of hotels and shopping malls.

“Money was transferred from Anjin to Sogecoa so that it can be invested in other business ventures other than mining or stashed out of the country,” one source said.

One of the bank statements seen by this paper shows that Anjin Investments deposited close to US$40 milllion from January 13 2011 to January 2012 into an account (number 10310505402016) which was opened at BancABC Mount Pleasant branch in January 2010.

Anjin then deposited US$29 million into the same account between March 2012 and May 2012. Between January 2013 and March 2013, Anjin made deposits totalling US$35 million.

In another account which was opened by Jinan in January 2010, account number 11753255402024, a total of US$176 million was deposited into Sogecoa Zimbabwe Limited between August 2012 and December 2013.

Sources said Sogecoa was used as a conduit for siphoning millions of dollars outside Zimbabwe. “Sogecoa facilitated the construction of Peacock Mutare hotel, Peacock Harare, as well as the Longchen shopping mall,” a source said.

Sogecoa directors, all of Chinese origin, comprise Zhao Yao Jiang, Qing De Jiang, Hong Yan Deng, Zheng Peng and Shang Gang He while its secretary is Qing Xia Lu.
Bank statements show that on June 12 2014 reference number ZW2FINT141630001, a transfer of US$3 141 616 was made to Sogecoa from Jinan’s BancABC Mount Pleasant account.

Using another account held by the same bank, account number 1175325540211, Jinan transferred US$767 380 00 in 11 transactions between March 2013 and May 2016.

“The Chinese used various accounts held with BancABC to wire the money outside the country,” a source said: “At times Sogecoa could deposit the same amount it received from Jinan into an Anjin account and then later the same amount would be deposited bank into its account in batches.”

Last year, Afec was dragged to court on allegations of having externalised close to US$500 million. After being summoned by the National Assembly, Jinan deputy general manager Tapiwa Goronga told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment that the matter was under investigation by the police Serious Frauds Section.-AMH