FORMER Mines minister Obert Mpofu, was yesterday cornered to declare his assets and disclose how he acquired his wealth as he testified during the fraud trial of Core Mining and Mineral Resources director Lovemore Kurotwi.
SENIOR COURT REPORTER
Kurotwi’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa made the request after Mpofu had earlier claimed that he was “too rich to accept a bribe” from Kurotwi and his co-accused Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) chief executive Dominic Mubaiwa.
Kurotwi and Mubaiwa are accusing the minister of demanding a $10 million bribe to facilitate a joint venture deal between Core Mining and government-owned Marange Resources.
Mpofu told High Court judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu that he acquired his wealth through hard work as managing director of Bulawayo firm Tregers, where he had some shares and from a reward he received from government as a whistleblower over the Willowgate Scandal in the late 1980s.
“I have been in government since 1980 when I was a minister until 1985. I then left and joined Tregers as MD from 1985 to 1989. I then left and started my own business. On the Sandura Commission issue, I was given a golden handshake and I started acquiring properties, since then I have never looked back,” Mpofu said.
Asked to explain what type of businesses he was into and how much his empire was worth, Mpofu said: “That’s too personal, but I own two properties in Harare, number 2501 Greystone Park and 644 Borrowdale Brook. I also own York House in Bulawayo and another building along 9th Street, and in Victoria Falls I only have a warehouse and residential properties for employees.
“I will also mention that I am a farmer, and not just an ordinary farmer, but one of the biggest cattle ranchers in the country with over 4 000 cattle. I also lease ranches to Cold Storage Company (CSC),” he added.
Mpofu also said he operated a business called Treble and Kays and once owned a foreign exchange bureau in the 1990s which he later sold to CFX.
As the cross-examination continued, Mtetwa asked the former Minister of Mines whether Israeli firm BSGR indicated to him that it would inject $2 billion into the diamond mining venture on behalf of Core Mining.
Mtetwa further asked Mpofu what became of Core Mining’s dividend of over $3 million.
Mpofu said he did not know what became of the $3 million, saying ZMDC was in a better position to answer.
Mtetwa also asked the minister to explain what became of the over $10 million which went missing from Canadile’s account just after the disbanding of the joint venture and he said: “It’s absurd because that amount can’t just disappear from the bank; ask the bank, it should know what happened. But I don’t think there was such amount in that account.”
Pressed further to explain the disappearance of diamond stock worth over $140 million, Mpofu almost lost his temper and replied: “That’s nonsense, I am easily irritated by ignorant and childish questions, and you are misrepresenting information.”
The trial is expected to continue as the head of the commercial crimes unit in the Office of the Prosecutor-General, Chris Mutangadura, takes to the witness stand on behalf of the State.