State captures, deports mining CEO of Gemcanton Investments

A combined team of police and immigration officers this morning captured and deported the Chief Executive Officer of Zambia’s second biggest emerald mining company, Gemcanton Investments Holdings.

And government sources have told News Diggers that Eli Neaffusy was picked following a trading dispute with Patriotic Front-aligned shareholders in the company.

Copperbelt Province police commissioner Charity Katanga confirmed the development, but said she did not have details, further referring all questions to Police Spokesperson and Immigration department public relations office.

“I can say I have received such information also, but the problem which is there; why I am not able to give any details is that my officers are not handling that case,” said Katanga.

“But I heard that he was taken, so probably the public relations officer from police or immigration may be in a position to comment. Us we will wait for a formal report regarding that issues. But myself as Commission of Police her on the Copperbelt, I have not sent any officer there.”

Neaffusy’s lawyer Dickson Jere said he was making frantic efforts to find the whereabouts of his client, adding that his phones were unreachable.

But eight hours after the abduction was reported, Jere called back saying his client had been put on Ethiopian Airlines under a deportation order.

I have just managed to make contact with him. He was calling from an Ethiopian Airline which was about to take off from Ndola. According to him, the people who abducted him were a joint team of police and immigration,” Jere explained.

Asked what reasons his client was given, Jere said “he was told that his business partner and shareholder reported him as a danger to the country and that his three-year work permit should be cancelled.”

Jere said the deported Israeli investor had been working in harmony with the Zambian government in accordance with the foreign investment guidelines, hence he could not understand the hostility from the State towards Neaffusy.

And sources with government told News Diggers! that there had been a bitter quarrel between Neaffusy and his Zambian partner of Senegalese origin Abdoulaye Ndiaye, popularly known as Gounasse.

“This guy they have picked has been trying to put proper company structures in place and a legal system of trading. They have invested so much money and brought serious machinery which is running 24 hours at the mine. Gemcanton is now competing 50-50 with Kagem. They auction the gemstones in India and other places around the world, which has never happened before,’ the sources said.

They said the Israelis acquired 50 per cent stake in the company, but had faced victimization from state agencies since.

“When they came in these Israelis bought about 50 per cent stake in Gemcanton, but along the way a dispute ensued between Gounasse and Neaffusy. Now the problem is that Gounasse boasts of having financed the PF campaigns. He claims that several ministers are on his payroll, including State House official,” reported the sources.

“So now, Gounasse prefers to sale the gemstone on the black market, while these Israelis want to trade the stones through government established auction market, because their parent company in Israel does not support black market trading. In fact, there is one auction coming up just next month. So this deportation is to prevent the stones from being auctioned at Pamodzi Hotel, which means they won’t pay tax to ZRA on the sale.”

The sources said the PF had a hand in the deportation of Neaffusy because he was making it hard for the ruling party-aligned shareholder in the company to generate campaign finances ahead of the 2021 general elections.

According to Bloomberg News, the Zambia Patents and Company Registration Agency (PACRA) shows Gemcanton as jointly owned by two companies: British Virgin Islands-based Frango Finance Ltd. and Wolle Mining Limited.

It was formally known as Grizzly mining company and had been digging emeralds in Zambia since 1997.

         

Joseph Mwenda

About Joseph Mwenda

Joseph Mwenda is a Zambian journalist experienced in political news writing, photography and video editing.
Email: joseph [at] diggers [dot] news

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