The Zimbabwe government has rejected a US$50 billion loan from Norange Capital Markets of South Africa claiming that security checks show the firm is linked to the notorious Russian Mafia.
Government officials declined to discuss the issue but insiders said President Robert Mugabe, his two deputies and Finance Minister Tendai Biti turned down the offer recently after state security agents suspected the company is also engaged in money laundering.
The sources said the company offered Zimbabwe the loan which was to be paid over 30 years attracting a negotiable annual interest rate of three percent and US$100 million to possibly sweeten the deal.
They said Finance Permanent Secretary Willard Manungo recently wrote to Norange Capital Markets advising the company that government has made thorough security checks which indicated that its loan is unsustainable.
In an exclusive interview, the company’s Chief Executive Officer Hendrie Hattingh told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube that Norange is not involved in any money laundering and has no links to the Russain Mafia. “I have never been to Russia and I don’t even know how this came about”.
Economist Eric Bloch said if Harare had accepted the loan, Norange Capital Markets would have plundered the country’s natural resources.
Political commentator Nkululeko Sibanda said Norange were looking for clean money in Zimbabwe.