Banda's son 'pocketed R5m' in Zambia-Nigeria oil deal

Former Zambia president Rupiah Banda is in court over an oil deal that he facilitated in 2011. (Siphiwe Sibeko, Reuters)

Former Zambia president Rupiah Banda is in court over an oil deal that he facilitated in 2011. (Siphiwe Sibeko, Reuters)

Banda (75) is facing a charge of abusing his authority while head of state between 2008 and 2011. Henry Banda has been on the Zambian police’s wanted list since 2011, when he fled Zambia after police asked him to submit to questioning in connection with unspecified allegations.

According to the Times of Zambia, former Zambian envoy to Nigeria Richard Kachingwe told the court Banda had directed Henry to discuss where the proceeds of the oil deal would be deposited with Sarb Energy director Akpan Ekbene and a certain Brigadier General Silva.

The Sarb officials initially went to Zambia in April 2011 and were welcomed at the airport by Kachingwe, who took them to State House to meet Banda and his son.

“At Nkhwazi [the president’s official residence], there was Henry Banda, the former president and me. When the Nigerians finished their briefing, they asked where the proceeds of the oil would go and Banda asked the two Nigerians to discuss the matter with Henry,” Kachingwe is reported as saying.

 “This was the most difficult and sad moment for me. After working hard on this deal, I expected the president to ask one of the government agencies to receive instructions about where the money would go.”

Counter
Kachingwe said that at the meeting the Sarb officials told Banda that Zambia was entitled to eight oil consignments worth $2.4-million.

He said Banda had later complained on two occasions that Ekbene had not remitted the proceeds as promised. However, Ekbene later confirmed to him by email that $550 000 had been sent from Access Bank in Abuja, Nigeria, to Barclays Bank in Singapore as per Henry’s instructions.

This ran counter to the initial contract, in which the Zambian government and Sarb had agreed to share the proceeds once the government-to-government deal was approved.

Kachingwe said Banda had accredited him as his special envoy to deliver a proposal to Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan soon after the death of that country’s president, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.

He said Banda funded about three trips to Nigeria in pursuit of the oil deal and gave him 30-million kwacha (about R50 000) in cash for one of them.

Kachingwe told the court that he had collected the offer letter on behalf of the Zambian government for the supply of 20 000 barrels from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company. But in the initial contract it had been agreed that Zambia would receive 45000 barrels of crude from the petroleum company.

Henry, who has vowed never to set foot on Zambian soil again, is now a businessperson based in Johannesburg. His London-based lawyer, Robert Amsterdam, has repeatedly protested his innocence of any wrongdoing in the oil deal, telling the Mail & Guardian recently that the real criminals were the Zambian government. Amsterdam could not be contacted on Wednesday this week.

In 2009 Henry was alleged to have brokered a corrupt deal in which Kenyan oil trading company Dalbit Petroleum clinched a multimillion-dollar contract to supply finished petroleum products to Zambia.

His father also faces charges over vehicles he allegedly procured for his 2011 election campaign from a Chinese company. He allegedly spent K20-billion on campaign materials, with most of the cash personally handled by Henry.

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The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane) produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for our stories, activities and funding sources.

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