ZCCM Investments Holdings has started the process of claiming up to $1.4 billion from First Quantum Minerals Ltd accusing the firm of engaging in fraud.
The claim includes $228 million in interest on $2.3 billion of loans that ZCCM-IH said First Quantum wrongly borrowed from the Kansanshi copper mine, as well as 20 percent of the principal amount, or $570 million, according to an internal company presentation, dated Nov. 4, obtained by Bloomberg.
The company is also seeking $260 million as part of a tax liability the Zambia Revenue Authority said Kansanshi owed it, as well as the cost of the mine borrowing money commercially that ZCCM-IH said could have been avoided.
ZCCM-IH said in papers filed in the Lusaka High Court on Oct. 28 that First Quantum used the money as cheap financing for its other operations.
ZCCM-IH also last month filed a notice of arbitration against Kansanshi in London over the same matter.
No figure was mentioned in the court filings.
ZCCM-IH owns 20 percent of Kansanshi.
But in a statement released Monday evening, FQM President Clive Newall said having carefully studied the claims made in both the Notice of Arbitration and Statement of Claim, First Quantum is firmly of the view that the claims are utterly without merit, or indeed any foundation in facts.
“It is notable that the Kansanshi Mining Plc deposits were fully repaid to KMP and were then used to fund a major investment program in Zambia, including the successful construction and commissioning of the Kansanshi smelter and expansion of the processing plant and mining operations.
“On October 28, 2016, KMP also received a Statement of Claim filed in the High Court for Zambia naming additional defendants, including First Quantum, its subsidiary FQM Finance Ltd., and a number of directors and an executive of the named corporate defendants. This dispute arises out of the rate of interest paid on deposits made by KMP with the Company’s financing entity, FQM Finance Ltd. The funds on deposits were retained for planned investment by KMP in Zambia.”
He said, “FQM Finance paid interest on the deposits to KMP based on an assessment of an arms-length fair market rate, which is supported by independent third party analysis. ZCCM disputes that interest rate paid to KMP on the deposits was sufficient. Unfortunately, ZCCM has taken the extra-ordinary additional step of commencing a further action in the High Court for Zambia, making allegations repeated from the Notice of Claim against certain First Quantum directors and an executive that are inflammatory, vexatious and untrue.”
“In fact, KMP is now indebted to FQM Finance for the funding of further investment in Zambia. The Company is currently engaged in constructive discussions with representatives of the Zambian Government, which holds a 92% direct and indirect majority shareholding in ZCCM, with a view to achieving an amicable resolution. We do not believe it is appropriate to comment further on the arbitration or court proceedings while they run their proper course, but we will provide further information as and when required.”
Meanwhile, Philippe Bibard, a spokesman for a minority shareholder group based in France said FQM is disregarding the rights of minority owners in ZCCM-IH in dealing directly with government.
*With Additional Reporting by Bloomberg