By Xolisani Ncube and Tendai Kamhungira
HARARE – A Ghanaian businessman who together with his business partner are at the centre of the $6 million diamond bribery storm could have fled Zimbabwe after obtaining a fake High Court warrant of release through devious means, the Daily News investigations have revealed.
The shocking discovery by the Daily News has turned out to be a major exposure as it appears that criminals are being released from prison using fake release warrants created by daring locals for huge sums of cash.
Kingsley Ghansah, convicted and sentenced to prison for five years by Harare magistrate Don Ndirowei in 2012 for illegally trading in gold, surreptitiously left the country while on bail pending appeal.
The High Court, the magistrates’ court and Ghansah’s lawyer, confirmed that he used a fake court order to grab his passport and flee the country.
President Robert Mugabe last Tuesday claimed that ex-Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa extorted $6 million from Ghansah and his partner William Atto Essien, a charge the ex-ZMDC boss strenuously denies.
Ironically, Ghansah met Mugabe in September 2011 together with Masimirembwa, former minister of Mines Obert Mpofu, Essien and local investor Itai Munyeza. They were being introduced to Mugabe by Mpofu as new investors.
However, controversy has marred Ghansah’s release after the Daily News investigations revealed that there was another document purported to have been issued by the High Court claiming that the Ghanaian businessman had been acquitted.
The fake order also directed that his seized gold, passport and $10 000 bail deposit be reimbursed. Walter Chikwanha, the chief registrar, told the Daily News that according to court records, Ghansah is on bail pending appeal and his case is yet to be set down for a hearing.
Chikwanha said as far as court records show, Ghansah should be in the country and his appeal against the five-year sentence at the High Court is still pending.
“This order (genuine order) is typed on a High Court security order paper and the other one (fake order) was typed on an ordinary paper,” Chikwanha said adding: “It is called a court order not a bond release”.
Although the Daily News could not establish Ghansah’s whereabouts, his lawyer Admire Rubaya said he last spoke to him early this year and confirmed that he had applied for a temporary release of his Ghanaian’s passport.
Commenting on the fake order, Rubaya said that he even asked Ghansah about the document after he saw him holding it.
“I don’t know where he got that (the fake order). He (Ghansah) is the best person to explain where he got the order,” Rubaya said, adding that he even wrote a letter to the Clerk of Court for them to photocopy the record of proceedings so that he would check if the said order existed.
According to the record of proceedings, Ghansah through his lawyers Nyamushaya, Kasuso and Rubaya Legal Practitioners, filed an appeal against conviction and sentence.
The lawyers successfully applied for bail pending appeal in April last year, before withdrawing the appeal against conviction.
High Court judge Hlekani Mwayera freed Ghansah on $10 000 bail and ordered him to reside at number 24 Mclaunghlin, Kensington, Harare until the determination of the appeal. He was ordered to report every Friday at Avondale Police Station and surrender his passport as part of bail conditions.
The Ghanaian investors claimed that they bribed Masimirembwa with $6 million, but the losing Zanu PF candidate for Mabvuku-Tafara Constituency strenuously denies the allegations, with senior government and security officials sympathetic to him saying the investors failed to raise the initial $15 million investment capital required to mine diamonds in Chiadzwa.
Information gathered by this paper revealed that police were hamstrung on the case, with sources claiming the Ghanaians spent most of their cash illegally trading in gold and were now covering their tracks by claiming that the money was used as a bribe.
Despite official police claims that they have launched an investigation into the bribery scam, senior cops said nothing much has been done as they are waiting for Ghansah and Essien to lodge a formal complaint against Masimirembwa, which would form the basis of the case.
“The challenge with this issue is that the Ghanaians are not here to act as complainants because they themselves might be arrested for their illegal dealings here, including gold and Ghansah for fraudulently acquiring a fake High Court order,” said a top police officer who declined to be named.
“Kingsley, for example, walked out of jail in circumstances which still need to be verified and Essien is not sure what will happen to him.”
Further investigations by the Daily News have revealed that the Ghanaians —Essien and Ghansah — only brought in $5 million which was a commitment investment, prompting local investors in the joint venture Blessmore Chanakira and Itai Munyeza to put their properties on the block to borrow $10 million, which was used to purchase plant equipment to mine diamonds from Block G Concession in Marange area.
According to joint venture agreements signed between ZMDC and First Capital, the Ghanaians and their Zimbabwean counterparts were supposed to invest a total of $110 million with the initial investment pegged at $15 million which they failed to raise.
After failing to raise the rest of the amount, Munyeza and Chanakira — using their investment vehicle, Danto Investments — borrowed the $10 million which was quickly swallowed in the project. There are escalating fears that they could lose the properties they used as collateral.
Under the deal, ZMDC strategically partnered with Bill Minerals, whose majority shareholder was First Capital Plus Zimbabwe. Daily News