Green Fuel in sanitiser export storm

TINASHE MAKICHI

Billy Rautenbach’s Green Fuel has come under the spotlight over its export of sanitisers amid indications the initiative has been riddled with possible misrepresentation, Business Times has established.

The scandal has since sucked in the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) officials who are accused of clearing Green Fuel consignments which had no Ministerial Authority as required by the law.

It is understood that Green Fuel approached Ministry of Energy and Power Development which wrote a letter of support to Ministry of Industry and Commerce recommending Green Fuel for the export licence. 

Following the outbreak of Covid-19 the company began production of alcohol based sanitisers in support of efforts to fight the spread of the pandemic. The production of sanitisers has not jeopardised petrol blending.

The company has been supplying the local market with sanitisers and has undertook to set aside 500 000 litres to ensure adequate supply for the domestic market.

Having secured an export market for the surplus sanitisers, the company applied for an export licence from Ministry of Industry  in line with the Control of Goods (Open General Import and Export Licence) (Amendment) notice 2020 (number 7).

Business Times is informed that despite the export deal receiving greenlight from both Ministries and the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commision (Zacc), red flags were raised by a section of anti-corruption authorities thereby triggering further investigations.

There are concerns that there could have been misrepresentation of information by Green Fuels to the authorities with regards to this initiative while Zimra officials are accused of having corruptly cleared consignments without following due process.

The Ministry of Energy supported Green Fuel bid for an export license.

“The Ministry of Energy and Power Development supports the application for an export licence by Green Fuels as this will help the company to generate the much-needed foreign currency for the purchase of critical equipment and inputs required at their production as well as supporting regional countries in fighting Covid-19,” the Ministry’s permanent secretary Gloria Magombo wrote in a May 8, 2020 letter. The letter was addressed to her Industry counterpart Mavis Sibanda.

According to documents seen by Business Times, there are indications that there was a consignment that was initially scheduled to be exported through Chirundu Border Post but for a reason that investigations have not uncovered the consignment was re-routed to exit the country through Plumtree.

There are indications that this gave rise to the possibility that information on the nature of the consignment and its destination indicated in documents submitted to Zimra must have amounted to misrepresentation.

Business Times heard this week that there have been calls to enquire from Shipanga Medical Private Limited whether the entity did indeed order and received the consignment in question from Green Fuels. 

Despite all other authorities giving greenlight to the Green Fuels export deal, the Special Anti-Corruption Unit in the Office of the President and Cabinet (SACU) raised red flag on the deal, according to people familiar with the matter.

The anti-graft unit has since communicated its intention to further investigate outstanding issues on the matter with the probe targeting a Zimra officer (name supplied) for clearing a Green Fuels consignment while a separate docket would be prepared with statements recorded from the Head of Zimra Plumtree Border Post, sources said.

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