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Millions missing from Zim diamond sales

Feb 16 2011 16:35 Sapa-DPA

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Harare - A total sum of $300m from the sale of diamonds by Zimbabwe from its controversial Marange diamond field and two smaller mines has not been accounted for, Finance Minister Tendai Biti was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

According to the independent daily Newsday, Biti told parliament on Tuesday that the recent diamond sales and remittances have "lacked transparency" and that an official investigation would be launched.

The Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) has indicated that an amount of $174.2m should have been remitted to the treasury, while an additional amount of $125.8m realised in January 2011 remains outstanding.

However, the state treasury had received only $62m from the sale of the gems, Biti said.

"Clearly the ZMDC and the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe are not remitting in full the revenues which they have themselves declared as due. I hope officials are not speculating with this money," he was quoted as saying.

Biti said he had ordered audits of the missing cash by the state accountant's office, the auditor general and the state revenue authority.

The missing millions add to the controversy surrounding the Marange field in the east of the country, where operations are shrouded in secrecy.

The Kimberley Process, which monitors the global trade in diamonds used to fuel conflicts, allowed Zimbabwe to sell some of the Marange gems in July, but is yet to approve further export and marketing.

 
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