Tanzania anti-corruption body charges Acacia subsidiaries with tax evasion, money laundering

Bulyanhulu, Buzwagi (pictured) and North Mara. (Image courtesy of Acacia Mining.)

Acacia Mining (LON:ACA), Tanzania’s No.1 gold producer, confirmed Wednesday local media reports saying that one of its staff members and a former employee were detained by the country’s anticorruption authority.

The company, majority owned by Barrick Gold (TSX, NYSE:ABX), updated the market later in the day, announcing that its three local subsidiaries, an employee and a former staffer had been charged for money laundering and tax evasion.

All the accused had pleaded not guilty to all 39 charges, which include tax evasion, conspiracy, a charge under organized crime legislation, forgery, money laundering and corruption, it said in the update.

Three of Acacia Mining’s local subsidiaries, an employee and a former staffer have been charged with money laundering and tax evasion.

The news comes barely a week after Acacia said another worker had been released on bail after being charged with corruption.

Acacia, which has tangled in a dispute with the country’s administration for over a year and a half, said The Tanzanian Prevention & Combating of Crime Bureau’s charges are part of an “ongoing investigation into natural resources exploitation” and a “war that the government is waging in the minerals sector.”

Since March 2017, when a ban on concentrates exports came into effect, the Barrick’s unit has faced a series of accusations, including tax evasion and illegal operations, which prompted authorities to question staff and even block one of the firm’s senior executives from leaving the country once.

To make things worse, Tanzania’s President John Magufuli, served the company in July with a $190 billion tax bill.

Acacia Mining, which owns and operates Tanzania’s three major mines — Bulyanhulu, Buzwagi and North Mara, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

The gold miner, which is awaiting a final agreement between Barrick and Magufuli, said it’d discuss with the Canadian gold giant how the recent “significant escalations of government actions” against the company and its employees will be taken into account in their discussion, as Acacia is not directly involved in them.