Sunday, 4 October 2009

Remember Phil Edmonds?

A story appeared in last Wednesday's Daily Telegraph about DeLaval, a dairy company linked to the Tetra Pak packaging empire. DeLaval have admitted to unwittingly selling goods worth £300,000 to the Gushungo Dairy Estate in Zimbabwe, now controlled by Grace Mugabe, in a deal which broke EU sanctions currently in force against members of Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party.

And DeLaval is not alone in making money out of this murderous and repressive regime, responsible for a multitude of human rights and power abuses, and for systematically destroying a once-prosperous nation. Another name that constantly crops in relation to dodgy dealing in Zimbabwe is an unexpected one ... former Middlesex and England left-arm spinner Phillipe Henri Edmonds (below).

I cannot pretend to fully understand the complex goings-on at CAMEC (Central African Mining and Exploration), the company headed by Edmonds, but it appears that, in 2008, CAMEC secured a concession to mine platinum in Zimbabwe in return for 215,000,000 CAMEC shares, worth at the time over $200,000,000. There was also a £100,000,000 'loan' earmarked for the Zimbabwean government, with no mention of a repayment date.

Private Eye magazine is on the case, as is Channel 4 whose excellent Dispatches documentary first brought Edmonds' involvement in Zimbabwe to my attention. Although Dispatches: Bankrolling Mugabe can no longer be seen on the Channel 4 website, the whole programme can be seen on You Tube, chopped up into bite-size chunks.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

Since this deal, all has not gone smoothly for Edmonds. According to Private Eye, he 'is rumoured to have health problems', and CAMEC is up for sale, having been forced 'to negotiate a deal with HMRC to pay overdue tax liabilities by instalments'. Potential bidders for CAMEC are also being put off by the company's links with controversial Zimbabwean businessman, Conrad 'Billy' Rautenbach, currently on the EU/British and US list of those whose assets are supposedly frozen, and described by Dispatches as 'Robert Mugabe's Mr Fix-It'.

I first knew of Phil Edmonds as one half of a classic 'spin twin' pairing with John Emburey for both Middlesex and England. He took 125 Test match wickets in 51 appearances including the wicket that won England the Ashes in 1986-87. I knew he'd always been a bit of a wheeler-dealer, even during his playing days, but these kinds of business deals take the breath away.

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