BUSINESS magnate Ken Sharpe and his Augur Investment yesterday claimed that they were owed over $23 million by the Harare City Council.
BY STAFF REPORTER
This followed reports that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) had launched investigations into Augur for allegedly fleecing the local authority of millions of dollars.
Zacc last week confirmed it was investigating Sharpe and his company over the murky Airport Road deal following a complaint by the city.
The Joshua Nkomo Express Way linking the city to the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport was later completed by the Zimbabwe National Road Administration, but Augur argues council illegally cancelled the deal.
Augur chairman Oleksandr Sheremet said his company’s name had been soiled for no reason and was ready to answer to any charges levelled against it.
“We take seriously the allegations levelled against us by councillors in the City of Harare, who appear to have nothing better to do than prove Zimbabwe is not open for business, to detract investment and create negative sensationalism to bring the country to a standstill,” he told NewsDay.
“We stand ready to answer any questions, both privately and publicly, from those who genuinely have an interest. Alternatively, we request that we are given the clean bill of health we deserve and left alone to get on with our business. We reserve our rights to take legal action against those who are purposely perpetrating this nonsense.”
Harare mayor Herbert Gomba could not comment yesterday, while a city official, who declined to be identified, said the issue would be discussed at a full council meeting in the next two weeks.
While reports, including an investigation by council in 2010, revealed Augur had been paid millions and the deal had not been above board, with claims that then Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo had been involved, Sheremet yesterday disputed his company was ever paid.
“The City of Harare never paid us millions as they have suggested. In fact, they were never able to even raise the 10% mobilisation deposit and we had to advance millions of dollars into the project to get it off the ground,” he said.
“Now, 11 years later, they are starting to point fingers because they don’t want to pay us what we are owed and not honest enough to admit it. They illegally cancelled the airport road contract, they defaulted and breached on all their contractual obligations which the courts, including the Constitutional Court, have ruled on several times and they continue to try to avoid paying by using technicalities and dirty political tactics.”