Wednesday 29 August 2012 – LAP-GreenN, the Libyan Investment Authority’s international telecommunications arm, is deeply concerned by the recent action taken by the Zambian authorities against LAP-GreenN and its employees, ahead of its upcoming court case in Zambia.
It warns that: “the government’s deplorable behavior is severely damaging Zambia’s international reputation”.
LAP-GreenN wishes to express its strongest possible objections to the disgraceful and unacceptable treatment of its employee and former Chief Financial Officer of Zamtel, Adnan Hayee, who was recently incarcerated in a Zambian jail from 17 to 20 August and who was only re-united with his anxious wife and family on the 26 August. Mr. Hayee recounts the story.
“On the morning of 17 August 2012, when five Zambians claiming to be ‘Immigration‘ employees entered my house forcibly without a warrant, a nightmare started. I was initially refused a lawyer, my house was searched my (legitimate) work permit was demanded, and I was forcibly taken to the police station, where totally false allegations were made against me, and where I was left alone and very worried, for the rest of the weekend.
“On the Monday morning, my lawyer saw me and spent the whole day trying to ascertain charges and get me released on bail, but as there were no charges this was impossible. In the early evening after my lawyer had left, the Immigration staff came, denied me further access to my lawyer, and took me to the Airport.
“They took my possessions, including my phone, made me sign some documents, exit-stamped my passport with ‘deportation‘, and I was bundled on a flight for Dubai. Thus ended five days of trauma, and humiliation for me, the reasons behind which are still a mystery; I just thank God that my family are now safe.”
A LAP-GreenN spokesman stated today:
“The recent unprovoked events against current and former employees by the authorities in Zambia and the grossly inaccurate and defamatory campaign in the press against these innocent people are totally unacceptable; no laws were broken by Mr. Hayee, and he was legitimately residing in Zambia until his children finished their current school term, before leaving.
“It is especially disappointing that the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Edgar Lungu, has now been personally implicated in these serious actions. We also regret the local media reports, which created confusion and distress by wrongly stating that Mr Paulsen, Zamtel’s former managing director, and not Mr Hayee, had been deported. Not only is the Zambian government’s action highly insulting to Mr. Paulsen and Mr. Hayee, but in Mr. Hayee’s case, he and his family have been subjected to unconscionable stress and anguish. This is a serious affront to LAP-GreenN and an insult to the largest single investment that has ever come to Zambia.
“We believe this policy of deliberate harassment will severely damage Zambia’s international reputation and harm the environment for foreign direct investment. The Zambian authorities risk reversing all of LAP GreenN’s impressive achievements turning around the under-performing, state-owned Zamtel in a move that will only damage the country. The message this action sends to foreign investors is that Zambia is neither a safe nor profitable place in which to do business.
“We are determined to continue the pursuit of our full legal rights and interests in relation to Zamtel through the courts in Zambia and are fully prepared to prosecute until justice is served. Whilst seeking legal redress, LAP GreenN remains willing to enter into discussion with the Zambian authorities in good faith to find an outcome that is positive for both sides in the dispute.”
LAP GreenN is prosecuting for the return of its legitimately acquired 75% equity stake in Zamtel, which was unilaterally appropriated by the Zambian government in January 2012. Failing this action, the company is seeking market-value compensation to the amount of $480m, which is the value of the shares at the time the Zambian Government seized them. This reflects the significant investments and improvements made by LAP GreenN since their purchase of Zamtel in June 2010. In addition, LAP GreenN is seeking damages for the substantial losses it has suffered as result of the illegal seizure.
LAP GreenN completely refutes the Zambian government’s claim that the original transaction was illegitimate and stands ready to defend the legitimacy of that transaction. In the 18 months that LAP GreenN managed Zamtel it made significant improvements to the under-performing, state-owned company, leading to dramatic and unprecedented growth and prosperity, including a 50% increase in revenues. After significant investment in infrastructure, the subscriber base was increased by 600%, and there was a 100% increase in the number of base stations.
Not only did Zambian customers benefit from vastly superior network performance and customer service, but the 25% holding of the government increased in value by nearly US$100m.