By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
Allegations of gross inconsistencies are haunting Golden Barn Tobacco (GBT), a Chinese-owned company operating in Zimbabwe, amid issues of violating Exchange Control Regulations (ECRs), Nehanda Radio has established.
This publication also gathered that GBT stands accused of smuggling cigarettes out of the country, prejudicing the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) in foreign currency.
In communiques to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)’s Exchange Control Division, Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (Timb) as well as Zimra, the complainant (name withheld) raised corporate governance anomalies by GBT.
In the letter, the complainant accuses GBT chief executive James Liu of violating ECRs.
It is alleged in the communique that it had become Liu’s modus operandi to transfer stocks from GBT to Gold Driven Tobacco (GDT), a company in which the Chinese national is the only signatory, as he sought to evade ECRs.
The GBT boss would violate Timb’s memorandum of understanding guidelines on tobacco transfers.
Liu reportedly also took advantage of weaknesses in local inter-company stock transfer regulations, where conducting trade with both Timb and the RBZ without a permit did not constitute an offence, although this could result in trade irregularities.
Instead of exporting tobacco, Liu would also allegedly scandalously move it to GDT for the manufacture of cigarettes, in the process flouting ECRs.
After manufacture, the cigarettes would also allegedly be smuggled out of the country to as yet unknown destinations, prejudicing Zimbabwe of the much needed foreign currency.
The communique also castigated sole proprietorships, saying where transactions are signed by only one man, good corporate governance practices would suffer.
The letter alleges the country was robbed of millions in foreign currency as GBT would purchase tobacco using locally sourced funds, in the process also flouting MOD regulations.
But GBT lawyer Dumisani Mthombeni dismissed the allegations, saying the complainant was an interested party whose aim was to damage the company’s brand.
“These are malicious allegations being peddled by a known spatial individual, and it is a desperate attempt to damage our company’s brand and reputation.
“We shall instruct our lawyers to institute appropriate legal action.
“In the meantime, all false allegations are denied. Let he who alleges provide proof,” Mtombeni said.
He said as a company, they remained committed to growing their business as well help grow the country’s economy. Nehanda Radio