HARARE – Indian businessman Dinesh Pandey faces a civil imprisonment for allegedly failing to honour a $140 000 debt arising from a fraudulent 2010 gold mine investment deal involving fellow countryman and diamond baron Nandlal Goenka.
The development also comes as the Harare resident has been frantically fighting an extradition order or request from New Dehli and Thailand to answer charges of fraud dating back to the 1990’s, and just as questions have arisen about how he acquired his Zimbabwean citizenship.
Through his Cosmic Resources (Private) Limited (Cosmic), Goenka won a mid-February judgment ordering Pandey to reimburse him the full amount plus a five percent interest and further summons — four months on — stating that the latter could face imprisonment should he keep neglecting his debts.
“You are required to pay this sum by virtue of a judgment obtained against you in the High Court… on the 13th February 2013, under which you were ordered to pay the sum of $140 000,” read the June 21 civil imprisonment summons against the fugitive businessman.
“If you fail to pay the sum specified above, you must appear before the High Court on (understandably July 31)…. to explain why you have not paid it and to show cause why an order for your imprisonment should not be made on account of your failure to pay,” it added.
In a July 2012 finding affidavit, Goenka clearly demonstrated that Pandey had twice tried to swindle him through the Selous, Sirius Mine (Serious) deal — held through Samir Popatial and Adam Wood’s Prowick Investments — and other acquisitions such as a Guruve, and Darwendale chrome operation.
Although Pandey had signed a June 28, 2012 acknowledgment of debt to the tune of $140 000 and emanating from a botched, and overcharge on Goenka, he has either been ducking or neglecting his obligations since — to a point of even trying to use his political connections to dodge payment altogether.
And as the embattled debtor tries to wriggle out of this self-made problem — by pulling in his Zanu PF allies, if not co-investors, in Elkhart Mine (Private) Limited (Elkhart) — a dossier reportedly sent to Co-Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi further exposes Pandey’s conduct and dodgy history.
The paper not only seeks to establish the slippery businessman’s residence status, especially how he had obtained Zimbabwean papers nearly 12 years ago when he had a multiplicity of fraud cases in India and Bangkok, but effectively paints him as a fugitive from justice.
“Papers were submitted (to Mohadi) in June last year and which indicated that Pandey’s local lawyers were seeking an exemption for him to attend court sessions in India in person.
“In there, there were also claims that the charges had been overtaken by the passage of time and Indian courts have no jurisdiction to try him,” said a source, adding this was strange given the questionable circumstances in which he had obtained Zimbabwean identification documents or particulars.
“As it is, Pandey faces the broader allegation that he was convicted on serious bank fraud… in Thailand in early 1990s, managed to secure bail and which he then skipped by going back to India.
“While there (in his native India), he allegedly defrauded a number of other people in the diamond industry, especially varying sums ranging from $40 million to $60 million.
For instance, a Surat called Jaitin Mehta was among his victims as he lost nearly $4 million in gem deals, which never materialised,” they said.
While Pandey and his associates battle all these unsavoury allegations, the essence of the Mohadi petition was to annul his citizenship or that he may be deported to his native India to face justice.
According to the same dossier, the controversial businessman was once arrested on a plane in Mumbai —while trying to leave for Harare — but managed to escape for Zimbabwe in 1995 before acquiring his citizenship five years later.
And in his bid to evade the New Dehli prosecution process, Pandey even uses spurious excuses such as huge travel expenses and that he may lose his Elkhart job in order to avoid travelling to India.
According to a September 2011 indictment from India — and seen by this paper — the runaway trader allegedly swindled Thai investors of nearly $4,5 million through his White Gems Company Limited in 1998.
“…Mukesh Kumar Sharmar and Mr Abinash Kumar Tiwari took diamonds worth 137 574 894,90 baht. However… these diamonds were given to White Gems Co. Ltd. Mr Dinesh Pandey and Mr Ashok Pandey to the cheques of Ms. Siriporn Kittiviriyawong… by deluding her that the cheques will be used for guaranteeing the loans and by adding the amount, and date of payment into the cheques by themselves for delivery to the brokers,” it said.
“Thus, both the brokers had given about 119 cheques to Mr Mahavir totalling 97 268 151 baht. The said acts committed by White Gems Co. Ltd of which… Pandey is the owner has, thus, caused damage to Alma Diamonds (Bangkok) Ltd, to the total amount of 137 574 893,90 baht.”
In the Zimbabwean cases, the cunning businessman allegedly milked his erstwhile business partner Goenka of $140 000-plus by not only overinflating the price of the Mashonaland West gold mine, but other assets.
So brazen and shameful were Pandey’s actions that he had even tried to elbow out Popatial, and claimed the latter was undeserving of his Sirius share — when he was confronted by the gold and diamond tycoon over the missing cash
According to Goenka — chairman of a listed gold and diamond trading company — he had transferred varying sums of money —totalling $740 000 and into Pandey’s accounts — from his offshore savings for Popatial’s equity, but the money never reached its intended destination for two years.
Efforts to secure comment from Mohadi and the Harare businessman were fruitless last week.