By Lance Guma
The feud between central bank governor Gideon Gono and his former adviser Munyaradzi Kereke scaled new heights on Monday when Kereke formally lodged a report with the Anti-Corruption Commission against his former boss.
In a letter to a Mr D. D Chirindo (Chairperson of the Commission) dated 8 October 2012 Kereke says he is making a “formal report of multiple acts of corruption, theft and abuse of office by Gideon Gono.”
Gono “fraudulently took at least US$15 million in cash from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe between 2007 and 2008 through Mirirai Chiremba who at that time got the foreign exchange from parallel market purchases and used same to construct Gono’s multi-million dollar residency in Borrowdale, Lunar Road.”
Kereke proceeds to accuse Gono of defrauding the central bank of “US$6.5 million on or around June/July 2008 and that this entire amount was written off the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s audited income statements.”
The former adviser says the “money was advanced to a company called Saltlakes Holdings under signature of DR GIDEON GONO under a Memorandum of Deposits (MOD) programme.”
This fraud he says was facilitated through “a convoluted array of write-offs well-orchestrated between DR GIDEON GONO and Saltlakes Holdings.” He says the case was under the active investigation of the police on or around 8 September 2011 but that Gono “openly refused to cooperate” with the police.
Kereke claims that Gono abused public funds “by giving US$200,000.00 cash belonging to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to the Financial Gazette, a company in which he is the majority shareholder.” He claims that the editor “Hama Saburi and the CEO received the cash from the RBZ.”
In the letter to the Anti-Corruption Commission Kereke claims Gono “routinely sold gold belonging to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe using runners and cash from such sales would be given to DR GIDEON GONO for own gain. The writer (Kereke) routinely cautioned DR GONO against this but to no success.”
Kereke says a 2006 audit by Deloitte and Touché picked up that a total of 403.53 ounces of gold coins were missing. Gono was asked about the whereabouts of these coins but responded that “the process of investigating the location of the gold coins is ongoing”.
“Three years later in 2009 when BDO Kudenda and Co where conducting the 2008 Audit, still the gold coins worth around US$350,794.57 at the ruling price of US$869.75 per ounce as at 31 December, 2008 were missing,” Kereke says.
In another case Kereke says the RBZ owned and operated Carslone Mine in the Midlands Province had its ownership fraudulently transferred to a largely private joint venture operation without the approval of the bank’s board. Gono acted “through his subordinate Mirirai Chiremba” he claimed.
“This effectively caused the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to be defrauded of its gold mine on 1 April 2011. Numerous inquiries by the Parliamentary Committee on Budget and Finance on Carslone went un-responded to by DR GIDEON GONO, further undermining the purity of this transaction,” he said.
The gold deals did not end there.
Kereke claims the central bank under Gono “entered into a very corrupt, detrimental contract” where purified fine gold from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe was sold to a private jewellery company in Saudi Arabia called Suliman Al Othaim Jewellery “at an incomprehensible discount of 34% at a time Zimbabwe itself was on its knees short of foreign currency.”
Gold worth US$5 million was shipped under “this very weird, fraudulent and reckless contract that was highly prejudicial to Zimbabwe and “the corruption around this transaction is further amplified by the fact that on occasions, DR GIDEON GONO would send Millicent Mombeshora to fly to Saudi Arabia to the jewellery shop which was receiving this mysteriously discounted gold.”
Kereke says “this criminal transaction” was handled personally by Millicent Mombeshora (wife of the Deputy Health Minister Douglas Mombeshora) and that Gono reacted very violently when Kereke unearthed it and confronted him.
When the matter was reported to the state security agents, Kereke claims Gono “poured tirades of abusive words to me in front of all RBZ Board Members taunting that “Kereke don’t waste time reporting me to State Security. I saved this country from collapse so they can’t do anything to me”.
Kereke is embroiled in an acrimonious dispute with Gono, after being sacked from his job in February this year. Kereke also claimed he is the one who wrote the examinations which earned Gono a doctorate degree.
Kereke claimed his removal from the central bank was calculated to conceal Gono’s criminal activities. The two fell out after Gono alleged that Kereke had authored a 20-page dossier detailing financial misdemeanours at the bank.
In August this year Gono filed a US$25 million defamation lawsuit against Kereke claiming the accusations by his former advisor were meant to tarnish his name. Kereke responded with a letter requesting further details of the claim.