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UK slaps sanctions on business mogul Kuda Tagwirei

By Silence Charumbira

The United Kingdom (UK’s) Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Thursday announced new sanctions against five individuals “involved in serious corruption in Equatorial Guinea, Zimbabwe, Venezuela and Iraq”.

The sanctions target cases of serious corruption which have deprived developing countries of vital resources saw Zanu PF linked Zimbabwean mogul Kudakwashe Tagwirei.

According to the UK government, “one of those designated spent millions of misappropriated funds on mansions, private jets and a $275 000 glove that Michael Jackson wore on his ‘Bad’ tour, another ruthlessly exploited public food programmes in Venezuela”.

This second set of Global Anti-Corruption sanctions targets corrupt individuals who have lined their own pockets through misappropriation, with their greed causing untold damage to the countries and communities they exploit.

The UK will impose asset freezes and travel bans against these individuals to ensure they will no longer be able to channel their money through UK banks or enter the country.

Tagwirei has been targeted along with politicians from Equatorial Guinea, Venezuela and Iraq.

“The individuals designated today are:

“Teodoro Obiang Mangue, Vice President of Equatorial Guinea, and son of the current President, for his involvement in the misappropriation of state funds into his own personal bank accounts, corrupt contracting arrangements and soliciting bribes, to fund a lavish lifestyle inconsistent with his official salary as a government minister. This included the purchase of a $100m mansion in Paris and a $38 million private jet.

“Kudakwashe Regimond Tagwirei for profiting from misappropriation of property when his company, Sakunda Holdings, redeemed Government of Zimbabwe Treasury Bills at up to ten times their official value. His actions accelerated the deflation of Zimbabwe’s currency, increasing the price of essentials, such as food, for Zimbabwean citizens.

“Alex Nain Saab Morán and Alvaro Enrique Pulido Vargas for exploiting two of Venezuela’s public programmes which were set up to supply poor Venezuelans with affordable foodstuffs and housing. They benefitted from improperly awarded contracts, where promised goods were delivered at highly inflated prices. Their actions caused further suffering to already poverty-stricken Venezuelans, for their own private enrichment.

“Nawfal Hammadi Al-Sultan has been involved in serious corruption in his role as Governor of Nineveh province, Iraq, where he misappropriated public funds intended for reconstruction efforts and to provide support for civilians, and improperly awarded contracts and other state property. Al-Sultan is currently serving a combined five-year prison sentence in Iraq for corruption offences, including wasting five billion Iraqi dinars (approximately £2.5 million) through fictitious public works,” reads a statement from the UK government.

Raab said: “The action we have taken today targets individuals who have lined their own pockets at the expense of their citizens”.

“The UK is committed to fighting the blight of corruption and holding those responsible for its corrosive effect to account. Corruption drains the wealth of poorer nations, keeps their people trapped in poverty and poisons the well of democracy,” he said.

The measures follow the first tranche of UK sanctions under the Global Anti-Corruption sanctions regime in April, which targeted 22 individuals involved in serious corruption cases in Russia, South Africa, South Sudan and Latin America, the UK said.

Over 2% of global GDP is lost to corruption every single year and the sanctions action demonstrates the UK’s ongoing commitment to the fight against corruption, it added.

The latest sanctions brings the total to 27 since “the UK Foreign Secretary launched the Global Anti-Corruption sanctions regime in April”.

“The financial restrictions will also apply to any entities owned or controlled by the persons designated today,” the UK government said in a statement on Thursday.

Earlier this month, Tagwirei was reported to have used connections with government leaders and central bank officials to gain access to hard currency and shield assets from the US Treasury, according to a report by a private anti-corruption group.

Sanctioned in the US in 2020 for corruption, Tagwirei appears to have easy access to senior civilian officials “at short notice, particularly at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe,” according to a report by The Sentry, the Washington, DC-based organisation co-founded by actor and director George Clooney.

The Sentry said such unfettered access raised “the possibility of state capture, when the public realm — particularly regulatory, legal, and public policy decision-making — has been influenced to benefit private interests.”

It also linked him to massive corruption involving US$3 billion from a farm subsidies programme.

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