Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Unraveling the web of De Beers secret funds to BDP/Masire

Guyerzeller, the Swiss bank through which De Beers directed donations to the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) for close to 20 years was a secret vehicle used by the mining group to hide the movement of secret funds throughout the world ÔÇô The Telegraph investigations have revealed.

The UK Midland Bank, now HSBC, helped restructure the De Beers diamond empire through Guyerzeller, the bank it co-owns with De Beers. The restructuring process helped De Beers set up its base in Switzerland after the British government imposed sanctions on Apartheid South Africa and was planning to bring its anti-cartel laws into line with those of what was then the European Economic Community.

Under the laws, De Beers would face heavy fines for its price-fixing arrangements with the Botswana government. These laws did not apply in Switzerland as it was outside the community. The cartel thus moved the paperwork of its many operations to Switzerland.

De Beers also routed the BDP secret funding from Guyerzeller through Marine Midland Bank N.A New York in which it also has an interest, before the money was finally credited to the BDP.

The Guyerzeller bank played a key role in setting up a web of European companies set up by Oppenheimer’s gold and diamond empire. Telegraph investigations have revealed that the links among the web of companies were carefully hidden to allow South African investors during the Apartheid era to hide the politically and commercially embarrassing origin of funds they wished to plough into European ventures.
Another company at the center of the De Beers secret movement of embarrassing money was Vadep. Guyerzeller Bank and Vadep both invested in companies with South African connections, without revealing the ultimate beneficiary.

Both had strong Oppenheimer links.
Guyerzeller’s role in the Oppenheimer network stretches far beyond Switzerland. The name of the bank – spelled differently but with the same address – appears as the principle shareholder of SCT (Manx), one of a number of companies established by De Beers in the Isle of Man. For years De Beers has been quietly building up a major presence on the island and the companies were mostly owned in Panama.

The Telegraph can further reveal that De Beers used one of its many ghost companies in Panama to transfer close to P 4 000 000 to former president Ketumile Masire’s company, GM Five, under the pretext that they were buying into the company. It is understood that De Beers was using the money to buy Masire out of the presidency.

The deal came after De Beers had funded a consultancy by University of Natal and Markdata director, Professor Lawrence Schlemmer, to help the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) win the 1999 elections. The consultancy recommended transfer of power from Masire. It is understood that Masire was, however, reluctant to step down because he was heavily in debts. De Beers used its company in Panama under the name Clairemont Corporation. A fictitious sale of shares between GM Five and Clairemont Corporation was staged to help transfer P 3 700 000 which would be used to settle GM Five debts.

Proceeds from the fictitious sale were used to settle GM Five’s loans with Standard Chartered Bank, National Development Bank, Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board and other sundry liabilities.


Read this week's paper