US probes Mugabe pay-off

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WASHINGTON — United States authorities are investigating whether Och-Ziff Capital Management Group knew that part of a $150 million investment in a small African miner would wind up in the hands of President Robert Mugabe’s government.

Och-Ziff last year disclosed that a broad Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission investigation was examining the $47 billion New York hedge fund’s business in Africa under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The Act bars firms doing business in the US from giving money or items of value to foreign officials for business, either directly or through intermediaries.

The publicly traded hedge fund firm is in talks to settle the probe into its ties to a network of investors and deal-makers that it worked with on business from Libya to South Africa.

Och-Ziff and others have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into mining operations in the past decade as commodities prices soared.

In Zimbabwe, US authorities are examining Och-Ziff’s connection to a $100 million payment to Mugabe’s government in early 2008.

The investigation into Och-Ziff’s ties to the payment, which was made through the African mining company it invested in, Central African Mining & Exploration (Camec), hasn’t been previously disclosed. Camec described the payment as a loan.

Och-Ziff has denied that it knew some of the money would end up with the Zimbabwe government.

US investigators are scrutinising a March 2008 trip to Zimbabwe taken by Och-Ziff’s Africa director at the time, Vanja Baros.

Baros met several people involved in channelling the money to the Mugabe government, including Billy Rautenbach, a Zimbabwean with ties to the dictator.

About three weeks after Baros’s trip, Och-Ziff made its investment in Camec, British regulatory filings show.

Days later, on April 11, Camec said it had purchased a company Rautenbach controlled, Lefever Finance, and its stake in Zimbabwe platinum mining operations for $5 million and 215 million Camec shares.

As part of the deal, Camec said it would make a $100 million payment to Lefever, which in turn lent the money to the Zimbabwe government to meet pre-existing obligations. — online

4 COMMENTS

  1. The Newsday is getting tougher. When they refer to Mugabe as a dictator (even though its not their story – the paper is theirs), it shows that they are getting real. Certainly Mugabe is no playboy, how about destroying the company simply because he can’t let Tsvangirai rule.

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  2. Let him rule the time will come for MT if he was meant to rule Zim lets just put in God’s hands one day is one day though we r suffering God is watching

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