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Tangold, Meremetaboth out of POC list -'Glaring' omissions raise even more questions

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Siasa' started by Lunyungu, Mar 24, 2008.

  1. Lunyungu

    Lunyungu JF-Expert Member

    #1
    Mar 24, 2008
    Joined: Aug 7, 2006
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    THISDAY REPORTER
    Dar es Salaam

    TWO local gold mining enterprises which have recently benefited from extremely generous government funding, Meremeta Gold Tanzania Limited and Tangold Limited, have surprisingly been omitted from a list of public firms whose accounts are to be regularly scrutinized by the newly-formed parliamentary public organizations committee (POC).

    Both companies were only last year vehemently defended in parliament as being wholly or partly government owned - and are understood to have already been the beneficiaries of payments amounting to over $130m (approx 167bn/-) from the Bank of Tanzania (BoT).

    However, neither appears in the official list of 183 wholly or partly-owned government enterprises and institutions whose books of accounts will be checked annually by the newly-established POC.

    ’’This is quite a surprising and glaring omission?it certainly warrants an explanation from the government,’’ said one member of the committee which comprises multi-party legislators and is chaired by the Kigoma North Member of Parliament, Zitto Kabwe (CHADEMA).

    Both Meremeta Gold and Tangold were subjects of heated debate in the last parliamentary budget session in June last year, with MPs questioning apparently contradicting statements by senior cabinet ministers regarding the status of the two companies.

    According to THISDAY’s own earlier investigations, the BoT paid some $118.3m (approx. 150bn/-) to South Africa’s Nedbank Ltd through the New York-based HSB Bank during 2004/05, ostensibly to offset a loan issued to Meremeta after the company filed for bankruptcy.

    Our investigations furthermore established that BoT paid an additional $13.34m (approx. 17bn/-) to another bank account under the name of TANGOLD, at the National Bank of Commerce Limited Corporate Branch in Dar es Salaam.

    Government sources said the central bank made use of a controversial 155bn/- Treasury bond, later exchanged for US dollar currency, to effect the payments.

    The payment on behalf of Meremeta was said to have been made after the company filed for bankruptcy in 2005. However, when pressed by parliamentarians, the then minister for energy and minerals Nazir Karamagi explained that the company’s assets and liabilities ? including the Meremeta gold mine and Buhemba gold mine in Mara Region ? had only been transferred to Tangold Ltd, a new company wholly-owned by the government.

    Meremeta was also described as a joint stock company between the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF) and a South African investor. However, other evidence indicates the presence in Meremeta’s affairs of at least two British law firms, London Law Services Ltd and London Law Secretarial Ltd, both described as ’nominal shareholders.’

    In the case of Tangold which is understood to have received some $13.34m (approx. 17bn/-) from the BoT, official records show that it was initially registered as an offshore company in Mauritius in April 2005, with its address listed as Suite 520, Barkly Whart, Le Caudan Waterfront, Port Louis.

    It was not until February 2006 that Tangold Ltd was registered in Tanzania, with its local shareholders including none other than former BoT governor Daudi Ballali; the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Gray Mgonja; the PS in the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, Patrick Rutabanzibwa; and the Minister of Infrastructure Development, Andrew Chenge.

    Furthermore, THISDAY’s investigations also revealed that according to the company’s articles of association, all the shareholders are permitted to transfer all or part of their shares to their next of kin.
     
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