US firm Columbia Gem House has denied Malawi’s allegations that it owes more than $ 300 billion in unpaid taxes on minerals mined in the country.
In a letter dated July 26, Malawi Attorney General Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda accused the company of evading duties on sales of rubies and sapphires extracted from its Chimwadzulo mine in Ntcheu since 2008.
The letter claims that Nyala Mines Limited, which it describes as a subsidiary of Columbia Gem House, paid taxes of just $ 600 versus $ 24 billion in anticipated revenue from their Malawi operation.
But the US firm this week denied any connection to the alleged case.
“Columbia Gem House is not, and has never been, the owner of Nyala Mines or any other entity in Malawi, nor a signatory to any lease with the government of Malawi,” reads an email to AFP.
Attorney General Nyirenda told AFP on Thursday that he supported the allegations.
“I stick to the content of the letter,” he said.
The spokesman for the Kazakh Gospel cabinet confirmed that the Attorney General represented the “government of Malawi” in the case, refusing to provide further comment.
“The matter is in the hands of legal experts,” he said.
But, he confirmed, “we claim what is owed to us by the Colombia Gem House”.
The US company said that neither it nor the US embassy had received the letter from the attorney general.
“We are aware that it is normal protocol for an embassy to receive such correspondence from a foreign government, which once again raises additional concerns,” Columbia Gem House said.
“We would certainly offer a formal response to any official communication from the Malawi government and answer any questions or problems they may have.”
The Attorney General in his letter asked the company to pay the Malawi government $ 309.6 billion in taxesa sum more than 25 times the country’s GDP.
“The calculations were provided to me by the finance ministry,” he told AFP.
“I have large documents on the subject that cannot be shared with the media.”