Zambia freezes Zamtel bank accounts

Zambia’s government has seized bank accounts belonging to telecoms group Zamtel, majority-owned by Libya’s LAP Green Networks, as part of a money-laundering investigation, the company said on Friday. It denied any wrongdoing.

“The authorities have no reasonable grounds whatsoever to believe that the moneys in the seized accounts and any other Zamtel accounts are from the proceeds of criminal activity,” Zamtel said in an email response to Reuters questions.

A government inquiry in November into Zamtel’s $257 million sale to the Libyan operator ruled the 2010 transaction illegal. Zambia’s attorney-general was still deciding whether to reverse the deal or not, the justice minister said on Friday.

Since his election in September, President Michael Sata has thrown a spotlight on a number of deals executed under his predecessor Rupiah Banda, who was criticised for taking a lax line on graft.

Sata in October scrapped the $5.4 million sale of unlisted Finance Bank to South Africa’s FirstRand.

Zamtel said it would challenge the seizure of its accounts in court, while LAP Green said last week it would fight any decision to reverse the sale. It added that it would invest $129 million in the company over the next two years.


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