Zimbabwean Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono accepted £104000, paid into the accounts of his children, from a company that sold fuel to the Mugabe regime.
Six separate payments were made to three Gono children while they were studying in Australia, at the same time as the company concerned – which claimed to have an office in Britain – was helping to supply Zimbabwe with millions of litres of fuel.
Gono admitted the payments had been made to his twin daughters and a son, but denied having taken a bribe. He said the reserve bank had reimbursed the company on his behalf.
In almost a decade as Zimbabwe’s central banker, Gono, a close ally of President Robert Mugabe, has presided over hyperinflation, the demise of the Zimbabwe dollar and a desperate shortage of essentials, notably petrol.
Gono, who blames “illegal sanctions” imposed by the West for the country’s economic woes, became the crucial deal-maker charged with ensuring the survival of Mugabe’s regime, negotiating with private companies to raise funds for vital imports.
One such company was Ravenscourt Corporation, which sold 49million litres of fuel – almost 5% of Zimbabwe’s annual fuel consumption – to the reserve bank as part of a joint venture in 2006 and 2007.
At the same time, Ravenscourt paid money into the accounts of Gono’s children, according to bank statements obtained by Global Witness, a campaign group, following an investigation by the specialist newsletter Africa Confidential.
In particular, Ravenscourt paid £1300 into the Australian bank accounts of Gono’s twin daughters, Pride and Praise, and the same amount to his son, Passion, on May 30 2006.
On August 21 that year, Ravenscourt made another payment into each of the daughters’ accounts.
Gono said the funds had been used solely to move his children to Singapore and Malaysia after they were forced to leave Australia.
In order to conceal their new locations in Asia, it had been necessary to pay the funds from a “UK source”, he said.
The reserve bank had reimbursed Ravenscourt on his behalf.
“In my 36 years of working, I am yet to receive a bribe from anybody and I’m not about to do so now or in the future. The same applies to my family,” said Gono.
His terms of employment encompassed such financial support for his children, he said.
Mohamed Iqbal Mahmed, director and part owner of Ravenscourt, refused to say why the money was paid to the Gono children or whether it had been repaid by the reserve bank.
“I categorically and unequivocally state that they [the payments] were not bribes or inducements to obtain favours from anyone,” he said. – The Daily Telegraph