Malawi accuses US firm of owing $300 billion in unpaid mining taxes

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Flag of Malawi (iStock)
Flag of Malawi (iStock)
  • Malawi's government accused a US firm of evading duty on sales of rubies and sapphires mined from 2008.
  • US company Columbia Gem House has denied accusations 
  • The Malawian attorney general said he stood by the accusations.
  • Get the biggest business stories emailed to you every weekday, or go to the Fin24 front page.


US company Columbia Gem House has denied accusations from Malawi that it owes more than $300 billion in unpaid taxes on minerals extracted in the country.

In a letter dated July 26, Malawi's attorney general Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda accused the firm of evading duty on sales of rubies and sapphires mined at its Chimwadzulo Mine in Ntcheu from 2008.

The letter alleges Nyala Mines Limited, which it describes as a Columbia Gem House subsidiary, paid taxes of just $600 against projected $24 billion revenues from their Malawian operation.

But the US firm this week denied any link to the alleged case.

"Columbia Gem House is not, and never has been, an owner of Nyala Mines or any other entity in Malawi, nor a signatory to any lease agreement with the Government of Malawi," it said in an email to AFP.

The attorney general, Nyirenda, told AFP on Thursday that he stood by the accusations.

"I stick to the contents of the letter," he said.

Cabinet spokesman Gospel Kazako confirmed that the attorney general represented the "government of Malawi" in the case, refusing to provide further comment.

"The issue is in the hands of legal experts," he said.

But, he confirmed, "we are claiming what is due to us from Colombia Gem House."

The US company said neither it nor the US embassy had received the letter from the attorney general.

"It is our understanding that it is normal protocol for an embassy to receive such correspondence from a foreign government, which again raises further concerns," Columbia Gem House said.

"We would certainly offer a formal response to any official communication from the government of Malawi and address any questions or issues they might have."

The attorney general in his letter demanded the company pay Malawi's government $309,600,000,000 in taxes, a sum more than 25 times the country's GDP.

"The calculations were given to me by the ministry of finance," he told AFP.

"I have voluminous documents on the matter which cannot be shared with the media."

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
16.41
+0.3%
Rand - Pound
19.82
+0.1%
Rand - Euro
16.69
+0.2%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.50
+0.5%
Rand - Yen
0.12
+1.1%
Gold
1,774.02
-0.3%
Silver
20.13
-0.7%
Palladium
2,155.00
+0.1%
Platinum
933.50
-0.5%
Brent Crude
95.10
-3.2%
Top 40
64,726
+1.1%
All Share
71,505
+1.1%
Resource 10
65,387
+3.3%
Industrial 25
87,072
+0.1%
Financial 15
16,239
+0.5%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot
Government tenders

Find public sector tender opportunities in South Africa here.

Government tenders
This portal provides access to information on all tenders made by all public sector organisations in all spheres of government.
Browse tenders