Zimbabwe and 419 ers

There\’s this great headline in The Times:

Zimbabwe\’s vice-president foiled in 3,600kg gold deal

The way they\’ve understood the story is that this is a scam whereby this Zimbabwean politician is trying to breach the sanctions upon them by selling off this gold.


Joyce Mujuru used her daughter as a go-between to seek a deal for the gold, according to Firstar, a commodities trader based in Britain, which says that it was approached in November.

Mrs Mujuru, appointed by Robert Mugabe five years ago, is among the 200 Zimbabweans under European Union and United States sanctions for alleged human rights abuses.

Firstar claims that Mrs Mujuru’s daughter and Spanish son-in-law, Nyasha and Pedro del Campo, offered to sell 3,700kg of gold for $90 million to Firstar Europe Ltd, a precious metal dealer. At the present market rate, one kilo of gold sells for $30,700 (£21,500).

Hmm, at current prices that\’s a $23 million or so profit. Interesting, no? So the reaction?

Bernd Hagamann, the president of Firstar, told The Times: “Our investigations showed who was really involved in the deal — Mrs Mujuru — who is on our blacklist. So we refused.”

Mr Hagamann said that when he told Mrs del Campo that he would not buy “blood gold” she offered to change the certificate of origin to Kenya.

“We have no interest in buying gold from people running a country where people are dying of cholera or from Congo, where the money from any deal would be used to buy arms to kill more people,” he said. “This is bloody gold. These people are criminals.”

Well, no, I don\’t think that\’s actually quite right. I think the secret is here:

Firstar posted the e-mail correspondence and documents concerning the deal on its website, saying that it wished to deter other blacklisted buyers. The documents included photographs of the gold nuggets and one of 13 diamonds ranging from one to five carats. E-mails between Mrs del Campo and Firstar detailed how the gold would be transported from Nairobi to Zurich once Firstar had paid $100,000 for transportation costs.

No. This isn\’t an attempt to sell "blood gold" at below market price. This is an advance fee fraud. A 419.

This is a scam to get the $100,000 by offering the $23 million profit.

Nice try by Firstar to claim the moral high ground though.

2 thoughts on “Zimbabwe and 419 ers”

  1. C. Moyo:

    You have appeared as though sent by Heaven itself; your perspicacity shall not go unrewarded.
    Firstar has chosen (unwisely, in our opinion) to focus on the none-too-savory details of just how this glorious swag has come about and, thus,
    disqualified itself from serious consideration in our efforts to bring this matter to a successful culmination. We shall fret no further over their loss nor their discomfiture. A true knight has appeared on the scene.

    But much time has been lost and we are now in a most precarious position from which we must extricate ourselves by the most expeditious action possible. Therefore, we’ve re-examined the facilities by means of which it is intended to convey such a magnificent treasure from our location to that of a most reputable safekeeping
    institution in Switzerland.

    The result of our re-evaluation is that, although we have not been able to effect any significant reduction in the costs concerned, we are now willing to “go halfway” and absorb part of these costs ourselves. Therefore, we shall welcome your entry to this matter and anxiously await your prompt transmission of just half the sum originally asked of Firstar.

    Please, we beseech you, Mr. Moyo, do not tarry.
    It is imperative that this trove be removed with all available haste to a place of maximum safety.
    I cannot begin to describe the extent to which this darkest of continents is infested with the most unscrupulous and avaricious of predators.

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