November 9, 2010 / 5:44 AM / 10 years ago

Zimbabwe charges diamond firm ACR with fraud

A worker at the Botswana Diamond Valuing Company displays a rough diamond during the sorting process at the purpose-built centre in the capital Gaborone August 26,2004. REUTERS/Juda Ngwenya jn/DBP

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe-focused African Consolidated Resources Plc has been charged with fraud and violating the country’s precious stones laws and will soon appear in the high court, the company said on Monday.

ACR said it faced allegations of unlawfully acquiring diamond claims in Marange by using subsidiary companies that were unregistered at the time, a process the authorities considered fraudulent.

“ACR has been legally advised that this should make no difference to the validity of the Marange Claims and accordingly that the charges are groundless,” the company said.

London-listed ACR is already involved in a court battle with the Zimbabwean government which cancelled the company’s claims in the Marange fields in the east of the country in 2006.

Zimbabwe’s high court confirmed ACR’s titles in a September 2009 ruling. It rescinded that decision this year, citing irregularities in the acquisition and registration of claims.

Last week, Zimbabwe police arrested six directors linked to a joint venture firm mining diamonds in Marange, also on allegations of fraudulently acquiring the concession.

The arrested executives include five officials from the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) and a Zimbabwean representative of its South African partner, Core Mining and Minerals, in the 50-50 diamond mining joint venture, Canadile Miners.

A magistrate will rule on Tuesday on the executives’ bail application.

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