King Mswati’s R100million mineral fraud, and the proof of payment



BY : ZWELI MARTIN DLAMINI

JOHANNESBURG :King Mswati defrauded the Swazi Nation in mineral deals, he allegedly received and transferred millions of US Dollars to foreign bank accounts to sustain his extravagant lifestyle in complete disregard of the Mines and Minerals Act that empowers him to receive the money in Trust for the Swazi Nation”.

This disclosure comes after a vigorous investigation conducted by this Swaziland News publication in the midst of international concerns regarding the lavish lifestyle of the King in a country where about 70% of the population languish in poverty, with the government relying heavily on foreign aid for social obligations. Now evidence has emerged substantiating how King Mswati has been defrauding the impoverished Swazi Nation millions of US Dollars through mineral deals at Maloma Mine, Ngwenya Iron Ore Mine as well as the Dvokolwako Mine where he allegedly colluded with Equatorial Vice President Teodorin Nguema to smuggle diamonds outside the country.

Government Spokesperson Percy Simelane when reached for comments said Natural Resources Minister Jabulile Mashwama was the rightful person to comment on the issue.

“Kindly try the Minister for Natural Resources Jabulile Mashwama or the Principal Secretary Mrs Stewart, it s an operational matter that does not necessarily call for Government position” he said.

The Minister when reached for comments became arrogant telling this journalist to get hold of the legislation saying everything regarding this issue was stipulated in the law. She sounded not prepared to take further questions regarding the allegations suggesting that the King was looting millions through mineral resources. “Just get the legislation, I cannot do the work on your behalf, everything you are asking me is in the legislation,” she said.

Evidence in our possession substantiates that on or around April 2012 at Engabezweni Palace, King Mswati, with intent to defraud the Swazi Nation in respect of mineral resources, allegedly held a meeting with businessman Shanmuga Rethenam, the then Chairman of the now defunct Salgaocar Swaziland “Ngwenya Mine”. It was during that meeting where the King requested to be paid $10million(over R100million in current exchange rate) and he was acting on a strength of the Mine and Minerals Act 2011. However documents in our possession suggest that he abused his powers to request for the advance payment that was never remitted for the benefit of the Swazi Nation. The law empowers the King to hold 25% in all Mines in the country not for personal benefit but in “Trust for the Swazi Nation”. A proof of payment in a form of “account transfer advice” suggests that on 19 April 2012 pursuant to the meeting between the King and Rethenam, Salgaocar transferred the $10million to the King’s personal account held at Standard Bank Swaziland.

The said bank transaction with reference number BRF02TN00077401 was legitimized through a Board resolution dated 6 April 2012 in meeting held around 12noon at Dalrich in the capital city, Mbabane. “A request has been made by the Ingwenyama (King) through his representative Director Sihle Dlamini, for an advance payment of USD 10million on its dividend” read part of the resolution by the then Board of Directors.

The documents were signed by Mbuso Dlamini, the Secretary to Cabinet, King’s right hand man Sihle Dlamini and the then Salgaocar Chairman Shanmuga Rethenam. “The Ingwenyama (King) being a statutory shareholder of 25% in the company, shall receive an advance payment of his dividend in the sum of U$D 10milllion as per his request” read the documents in part.

The documents further suggest that Mbuso Dlamini was representing government’s 25% shareholding, Sihle Dlamini representing the 25% held by the King in Trust for the Swazi Nation while Shanmuga Rethenam, the Chairman was representing the 50% for and on behalf of Salgaocar Africa Resources Limited. Efforts to reach Shanmuga Rethenam proved unsuccessful, as he did not answer his mobile phone. The businessman further failed to respond to messages sent to him where he was asked to explain some of the transactions and documents bearing his signatures.

But Goodwill Mathonsi, the Coordinator of the Swaziland Human Rights Network, an organization based in the United Kingdom said the looting of the country’s mineral resources by King Mswati was impacting negatively on the citizen’s rights to access basic services. He said these services include education, health care and the social grants among others. Speaking to this publication, Mathonsi said these millions that only benefit few people within the royal family could be utilized for the benefit of the struggling Swazis.

“What the country needs is a comprehensive forensic investigation into the undeclared millions of Emalangeni ostensibly held in trust for the Swazi Nation by King Mswati according to the Mines and Minerals Act. The King has reduced this money into a slush fund to finance his extravagant lifestyle at the expense of the Swazi Nation. Such an investigation should be judicial, independent and its terms of reference should establish how much money King Mswati holds and how it is invested. The investigation should further establish how much of this money is used for the benefit of the Nation and are there any systems of checks and balances in place for proper accountability of this money” he said.

An investigation by this Swaziland News publication further uncovered that apart from looting millions of taxpayer’s money, King Mswati has been secretly involved in the smuggling of diamonds at Dvokolwako Mine with Teodorin Nguema Obiang Mangue, the controversial Vice President of Equatorial Guinea. Teodorin is the son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, an ally of King Mswati who is counted among Africa’s richest and corrupt dictators. Reached for comments, Lucky Lukhele, the Spokesperson of the Swaziland Solidarity Network (SNN) said as a political organization they were not surprised with the latest disclosure regarding the shady dealings of the King.

“We have always known that the King is a gangster and a dealer, he doesn’t even deserve to be in public office. He is just a gangster and that’s where he belongs. This proof is enough to trigger anger from the people of Swaziland and we praise the media, in particular your newspaper for exposing such, this will go down in the history books. In fact, this must unite Swazis to fight and remove this regime lead by the King himself” he said. On or around April 2012, Teodorin Obiang, the then Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of Equatorial Guinea smuggled about R3million in foreign currency into Swaziland. The money, according to our investigations was to be presented to King Mswati allegedly, in respect of mineral deals. Unfortunately it was subsequently stolen inside Teodorin’s Royal Villas Hotel room at Ezulwini. It has been gathered that due to the involvement of the King in the smuggling of the money, the police never launched a criminal investigation in terms of the Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Act. The law empowered the police to investigate and subsequently arrest Teodorin Obiang for entering the country with undeclared millions in cash but only Asif Patel and Sikhumbuzo Makhanya was charged with house breaking and theft. Makhanya who was subsequently convicted for stealing the smuggled money later died in police custody and the real cause of his death remains one of the top guarded secrets within the police service.

Superintendent Khulani Mamba, the police Spokesperson referred questions to his Deputy Assistant Superintendent Phindile Vilakati. “ Hi, I’m out of duty please contact Phindile” he said Vilakati said she couldn’t comment on the matter especially on the confirmation regarding the death of Sikhumbuzo Makhanya who allegedly stole the smuggled money that was allegedly on its way to King Mswati.

“I’m sorry I can’t help on matters of deaths. I suggest the relatives can help Nkhosi”said Vilakati, the Deputy Police Spokesperson.

But insiders revealed that shortly after the smuggled R3million went missing within the King’s owned luxurious Royal Villas Hotel, police received a command to explore all possible means and recover the money. It could not be ascertained whether the suspect died of torture as the police were under pressure to please King Mswati by speeding the criminal investigation. Police in Swaziland, are known for violating the fundamental values and principles that governs criminal investigations by torturing suspects, merely on reasonable suspicions that they committed crimes. As a result, hundreds of suspects died in the hands of the police during inhuman interrogations. But senior police sources who spoke to this publication disputed the allegations of torture saying Makhanya was convicted and completed his prison sentence, however upon release, he allegedly committed a similar offence next to Royal Villas hotel, as a result, he was re-arrested.

“He finished his sentence and upon release he committed house breaking next to the Royal Villas. He was arrested and then he died,” said a police source. The source did not elaborate how Makhanya got “arrested and suddenly died” but other insiders within the law enforcement agency described the purpose of the smuggled money allegedly to King Mswati, its disappearance and the subsequent death of the suspect as one of the most sensitive issues. “Dlamini, this matter is very sensitive and dangerous to even talk about.,” said one of the insiders.

Meanwhile, King Mswati’s ally Teodorin Obiang; the Equatorial Guinea Vice-President who smuggled the R3million to Swaziland is counted among the most richest and corrupt politicians in Africa. On or around October 2017,Teodorin Obiang was convicted by a French court that subsequently ordered the confiscation of his assets worth about 100million Euros, allegedly obtained through corruption and or alleged embezzlement of public money.

These assets include a multi-million mansion in France, a fleet of luxury cars including a Bentley, Rolls Royce, a Lamborghini and a Ferrari. Teodorin was further slapped with a 26million Euros three years suspended fine. The conviction of the Vice President was to be confirmed by an International Court before the assets could be seized. This comes after eight years of vigorous investigations into the French assets held by King Mswati’s allies, the ruling families of Equatorial Guinea and two other countries being Gabon and Congo-Brazzaville. Now, an independent investigation by this Swaziland News publication uncovered a bundle of documentary evidence substantiating how King Mswati transferred millions of US Dollars allegedly obtained through public looting and or mineral deals to sustain his luxury lifestyle. On or around 26 April 2012, King Mswati allegedly transferred about R120million ($9,500.000.00) through Standard Bank Swaziland to an account held at Standard Chartered Bank based in New York, in the United States of America (USA). The money was allegedly transferred via the Bank of America’s Wire Transfer Services, however at this juncture; the purpose of the transfer could not be ascertained. But documentary evidence in our possession suggests that the beneficiary of the money was Mc Afee and Taft, a consulting company based at Oklahoma in the United States of America. Efforts to seek a comment from the company proved futile, as there were no responses to our questions sent through its media department. This publication requested answers regarding the purpose of the payment that amounts to millions.

But preliminary findings of our investigation supported by documentary proof suggests that the bank transaction came after a multi-million payment was deposited into the King’s bank account held Standard Bank Swaziland on 19 April 2012 in respect of mineral deals.

These are some of the deals that allegedly fund the extravagant lifestyle of the King who recently used about R1billion of public funds to purchase at jet. It has been established that whilst the financial challenges within the Swazi government deepens, with recruitment and promotions of civil servants halted, King Mswati continues with his extravagant spending. Information in our possession further suggest that these mineral deals might not be enough to satisfy the extravagant desires of the King as he ordered government to utilize taxpayers money to construct his R3billion Hotel at Ezulwini. Documents reveal that the Hotel disguised to be owned by government actually belong to the King through his controversial Tibiyo TakaNgwane investment company. Lisa Peterson, the Ambassador of the United States in the Kingdom of Swaziland recently warned that country was on the brick of collapse due the current expenditure with the population relying on foreign aid. She was speaking during the US 242 independence anniversary at the Embassy in June 2018.

“How do we continue to justify helping out in the health sector while bad spending decisions are being made elsewhere in government? “said the US Ambassador. On a separate investigation, this publication uncovered that King Mswati, through Tibiyo TakaNgwane receives millions from Maloma Mine in respect of shareholding held in “Trust for the Swazi Nation”, however like in all the mineral resources of the country, those millions were never remitted for the benefit of the country’s citizens as per the Mine and Minerals Act 2011. Maloma’s current shareholders include South Africa’s Chancellor House, the Swazi Government and Tibiyo TakaNgwane. In a report, Richard Ronney of the Swazi Media Commentary said Tibiyo TakaNgwane has a major control of the country’s economy.

“The Monarchy also has a major control of key areas of the Swazi economy through the royal corporation Tibiyo TakaNgwane” the report states. The personal fortune of the King was estimated by Forbes to be over R1billion and he is counted among the richest Head of States in Africa.