DRAMATIC footage of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s shadowy business associate and Belarusian tycoon Alexander Zingman’s unexpected arrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on 17 March shows the mysterious figure being aggressively shoved around a private jet with its engines still running.
Six plainclothes security details in the southern city of Lubumbashi are seen pushing Zingman, who looks frightened while he tries to resist, away from the plane into the airport terminal building to effect his arrest and detention.
Judging by his behaviour, Zingman had clearly underestimated their resolve.
The pilot looks on helplessly as he advances towards the scene. Outnumbered and cornered, Zingman is whisked away by two security agents who stampede him away from camera view, into the building and an uncertain future.
While the private jet’s registration mark and livery are not clear in the footage — only its wing around which Zingman is manoeuvred is visible — a Belarusian freelance journalist Hanna Liubakova, formerly with Belsat TV and Radio Liberty, posted an interesting tweet:
“Unbelievable. Zingman is being detained. One year ago, we wouldn’t even imagine this. His plane (most probably) is in the background — M-ABEC”.
The NewsHawks spoke to Liubakova from Minsk, the Belarusian capital, about the incident which sent shock waves in the corridors of power in the East European nation and Zingman’s company AFTRADE DMCC, which has offices in Minsk and Dubai. We also communicated with AFTRADE to enquire on the issue.
Company executives told The NewsHawks they desperately want him out and are pleading for his release.
Zingman cut some of his best deals while flying his friends and executives in a luxury jet around the world.
The aircraft (registration M-ABEC) is an Embraer ERJ-135 Business Jet Legacy 600, managed by Smart Jet Aviation in Moscow, Russia. Reports say on 25 July 2020, Zingman hosted Mnangagwa on his private jet with Leya Mnangagwa (nee Travis), the President’s daughter-in-law – Emmerson Junior’s wife.
Mnangagwa and his son Emmerson Junior hobnob with the deal-maker Zingman a lot. In one picture, they were photographed sitting with him in a room at their home with the portrait of First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, the President’s wife and Emmerson Junior’s mother, right in from of them.
One revealing report on Zingman’s jets says previously unknown flight logs from 2018-2019 for a Russian private jet, including destinations and passenger lists, give a stunning peek into how his private jet apparently flew to and from tax havens and African countries, carrying world leaders, businessmen and, salaciously, escort girls. Zingman has a wide and firm footprint in tough African market terrains. He hobnobs, dines and wines with presidents and executives.
The Embraer jet is owned by Rozelda Investments Ltd, a company listed in the Virgin Islands.
While the identity of its owners is unknown, due to the islands’ strict privacy policies, the plane has also been linked to Moscow-based Russian company Smart Jet Aviation in three different company registries: Russia, Cyprus and the Virgin Islands.
Smart Jet provides operational services for private planes, including a hangar and a pilot. Sources say Rozelda, as well as the plane, are owned by US citizen Vitaly Feldman, a businessman and close relative of Zingman — the main person listed for use of the plane. According to its flight history, in March 2018 the plane went from the renowned offshore tax shelter island of Jersey to Burkina Faso, then to Zimbabwe, again to Burkina Faso and then to Egypt, Latvia and Belarus.
On all these trips, one passenger was present in every instance — shadowy businessman Zingman.
Zingman has had meetings with Mnangagwa and Zambian President Edgar Lungu and Russian arms dealer Rosobornexport, resulting in Zambia acquiring two Mil Mi-17 helicopters and five Sukhoi Superjet 100 planes (SSJ100).
Rosobornexport and Mnangagwa as well as top local elites are under United States sanctions, but in January 2019 Zingman, who holds dual American and Belarusian citizenship, was announced Zimbabwe’s honorary consul in Belarus.
Mnangagwa attended the ceremony in Minsk where he also met with Belarus’ authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko in January 2019. He took a huge business delegation with him and signed co-operation agreements. They also visited Russia. He met Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Zingman, whose jet made six flights to Harare in four months between March and July 2018, has been linked to several high-profile deals in the country: In March 2018, Zimbabwe and Belarus signed US$58 million worth of deals across various economic sectors, including agriculture and forestry equipment, mining and transportation.
Zimbabwean Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga and Chief of Presidential Affairs of Belarus Victor Sheiman signed the memorandum of understanding. Sheiman — Lukashenko’s righthand man — has been to Zimbabwe several times. Shieman and Zingman have been linked to arms dealings, although they deny it.
The deals, worth US$350 million, were followed up on later that year, in September. This involves agricultural equipment and buses, which seem to be a cover for other money-spinning deals, especially on mining and possibly arms trade.
Logs also show three flights to Zambia, where the aforementioned arms deal with Rosobornexport was brokered in the past.
Among the passengers found on flight logs are Rene Ndonuei, Cameroonian and prominent UK banker, Nikolai Asaul, deputy minister of Transportation of Russia, Harry Findlay, under US sanctions for drug trafficking, Mabasa Chabarwa, principal administrative officer in the Zimbabwean government, Mnangagwa, Leya Mnangagwa, Lucky Igbinedion, ex-governor of Edo state in Nigeria and top members of the DRC’s former ruling People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy – ex-president Joseph Kabila’s movement from 2001-2019 – and others.
A more lascivious detail revealed by the passenger lists: four Russian escorts were onboard the plane in four different instances. All four work for the Queens Palace agency in Moscow, Russia.
So, a Belarusian-American’s private jet, owned by a Virgin Islands company and operated by a Russian company, regularly flies African businessmen and leaders to and from the continent. Zingman, as it seems, knows how to party, but also how to close big deals; his brokerage resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of contracts for his homeland of Belarus.
In the United States, questions have been raised as to whether Zingman, being a US citizen, should be trading and dealing with countries, companies and individuals under American sanctions.
This has kept him under scrutiny in the US.
Zingman’s flights to Zimbabwe and dealings with Mnangagwa and his close associates are questionable, as well as some of the people who have been flying to Harare with him.
While details of passengers on the jet after 2019 are not available, the aircraft’s flight history from November to December 2019 shows that Zingman continued to fly from Minsk to Lusaka and Harare.
In fact, when he was arrested in Lubumbashi on 17 March, he was coming from meetings with Kabila and was on his way to meet Mnangagwa, who recently secretly met the former DRC president in Harare.
The links between Mnangagwa, Lukashenko, Shieman, Zingman and Kabila point to what looks like an underworld network, complete with Eastern European dodgy dealers, pushing shady deals and big money. —The NewsHawks/Kingsmeninternationalgroup.blogspot.com