Thursday, February 26, 2009

The latest gold scandal involves the Vice-President of Zimbabwe

The latest gold scandal involves the Vice-President of Zimbabwe who tried to dump a bunch of her gold but got rejected: 

"The Vice-President of Zimbabwe has been accused of trying to sell millions of dollars in gold nuggets and diamonds in defiance of international sanctions. Joyce Mujuru used her daughter as a go-between to seek a deal for the gold, according to Firstar, a commodities trader based in Britain, which says that it was approached in November. 

Mrs Mujuru, appointed by Robert Mugabe five years ago, is among the 200 Zimbabweans under European Union and United States sanctions for alleged human rights abuses. Firstar claims that Mrs Mujuru’s daughter and Spanish son-in-law, Nyasha and Pedro del Campo, offered to sell 3,700kg of gold for $90 million to Firstar Europe Ltd, a precious metal dealer. At the present market rate, one kilo of gold sells for $30,700 (£21,500). 

Mr del Campo allegedly e-mailed Firstar offering 3.7 tonnes of gold nuggets with a certificate of origin from the Democratic Republic of Congo and $15 million of diamonds without certification. He claimed to represent two commodities companies, Onesafara International and Berline Equities Corp. But over the course of the correspondence, it allegedly came to light that the real seller was Mrs Mujuru. 

Bernd Hagamann, the president of Firstar, told The Times: “Our investigations showed who was really involved in the deal — Mrs Mujuru — who is on our blacklist. So we refused.” Mr Hagamann said that when he told Mrs del Campo that he would not buy “blood gold” she offered to change the certificate of origin to Kenya. “We have no interest in buying gold from people running a country where people are dying of cholera or from Congo, where the money from any deal would be used to buy arms to kill more people,” he said. “This is bloody gold. These people are criminals.” 

Mr Hagamann said that after refusing to go ahead with the deal and telling the couple that he was reporting them to the authorities he received a telephone call from Mrs Mujuru. “She said, ‘Some people will visit your house. You and your daughter will have problems’. But I was not afraid. It was funny. I told her she would have problems coming to Europe.” 


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