Duration slams ‘rogue’ forensic audit report

A report dated December 15, 2023 titled: ‘Forensic Investigation Report on the Overall Management of Forbes and Thompson Pvt Ltd and Associated Group Companies in Zimbabwe’ made the findings.

DURATION Gold Group, the resources outfit that owns several mines in the country, has disowned a forensic report prepared by Forfar Forensics alleging that it owes the  Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) about US$20 million in taxes.

Duration runs Gaika Mine, Athens Mine, Vubachikwe Mine (Forbes and Thompson) and Royal Family.

A report dated December 15, 2023 titled: ‘Forensic Investigation Report on the Overall Management of Forbes and Thompson Pvt Ltd and Associated Group Companies in Zimbabwe’ made the findings.

“With respect to company income tax of F&T (Forbes and Thompson) the amounts claimed as expenses have not all been adequately supported by the documentation required by Zimra.

This issue relates specifically to the quality and retention of documentation presented to support the expenditure claims against the gold revenue declared,” the report said.

“The estimated claim by Zimra against F&T inclusive of the valid penalties that may be applied is significant enough (estimated to be approximately US$20 million inclusive of the above withholding tax assessment) to impact the business continuity and going concern status of F&T seriously and adversely.”

It added: “In addition to the estimated liability of F&T to Zimra, the non-compliance to the submission of returns has resulted in the suspension of the F&T tax clearance status.

“This has resulted in the inability of F&T to raise funding and the liability to gold traders who failed to retain the 30% withholding tax under the assumption of the F&T compliance. This non-compliance has significantly contributed (to) the creditors of F&T.”

Forfar Forensics is a South African company.

But Duration spokesperson Robert Mukondiwa described it as ‘malicious’.

“(It is) a false report undertaken for malicious purposes by two former senior staff who were entrusted with the management of Zimbabwe operations and who were terminated for cause 9 January 2024 after a detailed investigation resulting in five (initial) criminal charges,” he told businessdigest.

“Further charges, including corruption, are under investigation. In addition, civil damages against the two conspirators will be claimed for defamation, breach of trust, breach of confidence, fraud and theft.”

Mukondiwa said Duration did not commission any report.

“It is a rogue report prepared and used by the two conspirators in an attempt to damage the Duration Group and secure a personal benefit. Current balance being discussed with Zimra (note the amount has not been assessed so is a preliminary figure subject to review and verification by F&T) is ZW$2 991 984 817,20 (equivalent to US$261 293,56 at the prevailing exchange rate),” he said.

Efforts to get a comment from Zimra were fruitless.

Robert Forfar of Forfar Forensics defended the report, saying it was commissioned by a director of the Duration Gold inclusive of F&T, who was concerned about the financial state the company finds itself in.

“All facts presented in the report are supported by substantive evidence. It is demonstrably false to claim the report is inaccurate,” he said.

Pressed to produce evidence supporting his claim, Forfar said: “The report was a confidential one prepared for a director, my audience being solely that director.

“While I stand by the report’s contents, I have no authority and am confidentially bound not to share the report or any support information with anyone other than the director who mandated my independent work.”

Forfar, who once worked for Duration, is among two foreigners who were implicated in a cyanide scandal and are reportedly on the run.

The matter is still under police investigation.

The other suspects are Li Song, a Chinese businesswoman, and Maria Magdalena Marida Van der Spuy, a South African who worked for Duration Gold and was a director of Posryn Properties (Pvt) Ltd until last month.

About 40 tonnes and 1,1 tonne pallets of cyanide were discovered secretly and illegally stored at a warehouse in Bulawayo believed to be owned by Posryn Properties.

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