Thursday, July 25, 2024

Request of investigation to ACC concerning ridiculous penalties for FQM tax dispute amounting US$7.6 billion

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FQM (FIRST Quantum Minerals copper Mine in Solwezi
FIRST Quantum Minerals (FQM) Copper Mine in Solwezi

On 7 June 2024, via an official letter, as being of Shareholder of First Quantum Minerals (FQM), I requested the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to investigate the substantial reduction of penalties against FQM for US$7.6 billion tax dispute.

1. Background

On 21 March 2018, the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) announced a preliminary tax assessment of 76.5 billion Zambian kwacha against a prominent mining company for incorrectly classifying imported goods as mining machinery, thereby avoiding customs duties ranging from 15% to 25%. This conduct was described as an “unacceptable act of cheating” by the ZRA. (Appendices 1&2)

The international and Zambian Press identified First Quantum Minerals (FQM) as the implicated company. (Appendix 2)

2. Estimated Amount of Penalties: US$1 Billion

On 27 March 2018, Christopher LaFemina, a well-known financial analyst from Jefferies, estimated that FQM would need to pay approximately US$1 billion to resolve this issue. He also predicted an increase in FQM’s cost of capital due to higher operational risks in Zambia and potential additional tax penalties. (Appendix 3)

3. Final Amount of Penalties: Approximately US$23 Million

On 26 August 2019, the ZRA spokesperson announced that the tax dispute with Kalumbila Mines, a subsidiary of FQM, had been resolved. The company reportedly paid around US$23 million, with most claims and penalties waived. The spokesperson justified this significant reduction by stating it was within the prerogative of the Commissioner General of the ZRA and the Minister of Finance. (Appendix 4)


4. Opacity and Accusations of Connivance

Despite requests for transparency, the ZRA refused to disclose details of the settlement, citing taxpayer confidentiality. (Appendix 4)

This lack of transparency has led to accusations of collusion between the PF government and FQM. Former UPND and presidential spokesperson Anthony Bwalya accused the PF government of protecting FQM and conniving to defraud the country. (Appendix 5)

5. Charges of FQM Payments to the Patriotic Front – ACC Investigations

On October 2022, the Anti-Corruption Commission has questioned Patriotic Front officials in order to obtain an explanation as to why a mining company paid into the Patriotic Front’s official account more than $3 million between 2015 and 2016 and $150,000 between 2019 and 2021. The ACC has summoned the party’s former secretaries-general, Davies Chama (2015-2016) and Davies Mwila (2016-2021), for questioning. Davies Mwila indicated that he was ready to publicly disclose bank statements proving the FQM payments when former PS Mines and now FQM Country Manager Godwin Beene announced that the allegations were false and FQM would file a defamation suit against him. (APPENDICES 6,7,8)

In response to Davies Mwila’s warning, FQM did not act on its threats.

6. Request for Investigations

Given the critical financial situation of the country, it is imperative to investigate the motives behind the decision to waive substantial penalties for FQM. As Behing of a shareholder of First Quantum Minerals, concerned with good governance and compliance with corporate regulations in particular the CBCA rules, I urged ACC Chairperson Musa Mwenye and Director General Tom Shamakamba to launch a thorough investigation to ensure there was no collusion to defraud the Zambia People.

Issued by:

Thierry CHARLES

Shareholder of First Quantum Minerals

Spokesperson of Minority Shareholders of ZCCM-IH

5 COMMENTS

  1. Without reading the article I will side with FQM
    ZRA as most will know are no better than opur Traffic Police extorting funds from innocent people on the most flimsy made up offences

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  2. Amazing! Thierry seems to be out of his mind. How do you complain against a company where you hold shares in this manner? There’s something wrong here. What’s the motive?

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    • The world has changed. There is now good CORPORATE GOVERNANCE demanded in running of companies. This country has lost a lot from crooked ways mining houses. There was also the billion that wew diverted from Kansanshi to fund Kalumbila with Zccm-ih permission. Then the recent swap of 20% shareholding for 3% royalties. KCM which has never declared dividends for more than 20 years. Hyperinflated capex by glencore at Mopani. Ooh it’s depressing

  3. It would be easier to investigate a Zambian company owned by an opposition leader than the company in question.

  4. Over to you, ACC. It’s of course a complex issue which requires inter-agency cooperation. You won’t be hearing a comment from Emmanuel Mwamba on this one.

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