Indian businessman in plot to defraud Zimbabwean government – Central Bank reveals

Ashok Jain (in black suit) with Mnangagwa
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INDIAN businessman Ashok Jain tried to swindle the government of over US$100 million in a pie-in-the-sky deal, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) documents in’s possession have revealed.

According to the documents, Jain met and sent a Letter of Intent to then RBZ Governor John Mangudya, in his capacity as proprietor of NV Distilleries and Breweries, indicating plans to set up an ethanol plant in the mould of Billy Rautenbach’s Greenfuel.

The well-drafted letter promised to produce poultry feed, generate power and manufacture fertiliser.

In exchange, Jain wanted 6,000 hectares of land situated near a dam covering at least 200 hectares for free and ‘exemption from paying all import duties and levies for machinery and equipment.’

Jain demanded repayment of all buildings he would construct on the land within five years and then a line of credit for ‘approximately’ US$100 million which would be facilitated by the Indian government through a line of credit to as much as US$165 million.

“Please note that this project will employ more than 3,000 people directly and indirectly, and will improve the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Zimbabwe,” reads his letter dated November 1, 2021.

The Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency (ZIDA) even approved the move whose value had now risen to US$125 million according to a letter dated May 18, 2022, before RBZ flagged it.

Mangudya noted that the Zimbabwean government had no credit facility deal with the Indian government and highlighted that they could not finance his envisioned entity seeing as he had indicated capacity to do so himself.

He had agreed to inject US$97,850,000 over three years into the project with US$32,616,667 being personal funds, according to ZIDA’s letter of approval.

“Please kindly be advised that the Bank is not privy to the US$165 million line of credit that was extended to the Zimbabwean Government by the Indian Government,” reads Mangudya’s response.

“Under these circumstances, we would like to advise that without such support, we have no capacity to support the issuance of the required US$125 million Standby Letter of Credit.”

Jain, who has ventured into gold and lithium mining, is also being accused of using a picture taken during a photo-op with President Emmerson Mnangagwa to intimidate locals.

His visit to Mnangagwa was facilitated by Minister of State for Presidential Affairs Joram Gumbo.

Gumbo recently came out to defend himself in local media following revelations Jain had once been arrested for smuggling in India.

Gumbo did not however reveal if he knew Jain to have been certified mentally unstable by an Indian court following allegations of smuggling in 2020 and 2021.

Jain claims to be the third-ranking most influential politician in India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), sentiments which further put in question his mental state as the position held by one Rajnath Singh.