HARARE – Controversial businessman John Arnold Bredenkamp was recently detained over a $4,2 million fraud and externalisation charge.
The tycoon, who has instituted legal proceedings against the British government for placing him on a travel and asset ban targeting President Robert Mugabe’s inner circle, appeared before the Harare Magistrates’ Court last week after a complaint by local trader Yakub Ibrahim Mohammed.
With the Breco Group owner appearing before Don Ndirowei, Bredenkamp was released on a $2 000 bail and his High Court trial set for September 9.
For long, considered one of Britain and Europe’s richest men, the 73-year-old Zimbabwean businessman and ex-rugby player was indicted after allegedly acquiring a loan from Mohammed about 12 years ago, and which he has failed to repay or make good on.
While Mohammed had provided the foreign cash component of the loan from proceeds of his Sahawi International (Private) Limited cigarette trading business in South Africa, Bredenkamp — famous for his helicopter shuttles in Harare – had promised to pay back the loan after disposing off his Kababankola Mining Company in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
However, after selling the controversial diamond mine in 2006 — once co-owned with another local tycoon Billy Rautenbach — the former Prince Edward School student failed to pay back the cash.
According to the agreement between the two businessmen, the loan was to attract a six percent interest per year, capitalised on a monthly
basis and Bredenkamp also stands accused of obtaining this money without the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s exchange control approvals.
In the same court papers, it was said that Mohammed imported cigarettes into the country under a Zimbabwe Revenue Authority bond at Bak Storage and upon selling them within the southern African region he got substantial amounts of forex.
At the time, the country was still using the Zimbabwean dollar.
In the meantime, Bredenkamp has recently filed a lawsuit against the British government after discovering that the London administration was behind a decision to blacklist him for allegedly propping up Mugabe’s government.
Although the controversial tycoon had been on a European Union (EU)and western embargo, he has since been removed from the list following a review of the smart sanctions in February 2012.
In his anti-sanctions court action, the ex-arms dealer and Rhodesian sanctions-buster said in 2009 that the EU measures were “devastating for his personal and professional reputation” and was based on “exceptionally generalised” evidence.
And he is now challenging the lawfulness of the government’s decision to freeze his assets and impose a travel ban on him to Europe between2009 and 2012.