In 2012, the country heard that Dr Rajan Mahtani took over Zambezi Portland Cement from the alleged ‘owners’, the Ventriglia family of Italian descent. Since then, a lot of falsehoods have been thrown around especially by the Ventriglias’ lawyer.
One of the shameless lies is that Dr Mahtani forged a signature of the Ventriglias on transfer share documents.
But what is the truth? What is the other side of the story?
An impression has been created that Dr Mahtani just woke up one day and said ‘I want Zambezi Portland and grabbed it.’ By carefully selecting what information to release to the public, Ventriligias lawyer Sakwiba Sikota S.C., has tried to present the Ventriglias as victims and that Dr Mahtani just came from nowhere to reap where he did not sow.
The truth however is that Zambezi Portland owes its very existence to Mahtani. Without Mahtani’s money, there would be no Company called Zambezi Portland. Documents show that almost all the money that was used to create the second biggest company in the country came from Mahtani or through his innovations.
The truth is that Dr Mahtani through Finsbury owns 58 per cent shares in Zambezi Portland. The Ventriglias own 42 per cent. See the shareholding certificate signed by five members of the Ventriglias family on 26 February 2007.
As far as we know, the Ventriglias have not disputed this shareholding agreement. Instead, the so-called forgery relates to a secondary document about the actual transfer of shares at Patents and Companies Registration Office (PACRA).The alleged share transfer forms were dated 5th December, 2006.
The Shareholders agreement is dated 26th February, 2007 and clause 1 of the agreement reads: “This Shareholders’ Agreement supercedes all such agreements prior to the executed date of this agreement and supercedes the Articles of ZPC”
It works like this; first you agree on the shareholding and sign an agreement like in this case, then you go to PACRA to effect or register your agreement in the process called ‘share transfer’. In other words, the share transfer is just a notification to PACRA that these are the changes that have been made in our company. The most important document is the shareholding agreement. So why are the Ventriglias not disputing the shareholding agreement which is the most fundamental document?
Like already noted the Ventriglias and Finsbury signed an agreement in 2007 which gave Finsbury 58 per cent shares and thereby becoming the real owners of the company. Obviously Finsbury did not get these shares for free. They paid a fortune with all the debts that were incurred.
But what went wrong?
Politics and greed came in. It appears the Ventriglias were not happy that they were now minority shareholders. As minority shareholder, you don’t control the company.
Luckily enough for them, there was change of government in 2008 after Levy Mwanawasa died.
In an Italian Mafia style, the Ventriglias launched a bid to take over the company using government machinery. Senior government officials were paid and in no time, Mahtani was ousted and stood accused of forgery and all manner of crimes. His lawyer Zaheeda Essa was harassed, threatened with imprisonment and deportation if she did not sign documents written by Sakwiba Sikota S.C., implicating Mahtani. Even now, Zaheeda is still living in terror despite the fact that she recanted and even reported Sakwiba Sikota S.C., to the police and Law Association of Zambia.
So, when Governments changed again, all Mahtani did was to follow his shares that had been stolen. What happened in 2012 was just the repeat of what happened in 2008, but this time, the real owners Zambezi Portland were asserting their rights.
But there is more, in the short period that the Italians reigned supreme at Zambezi Portland, more than USD $40 million was looted.
Some of this money was of course externalized to offshore accounts, some of it used to hire handwriting ‘experts’ to pin down Mahtani, and still some cash was used to bribe politicians to make sure they had State backing. Lawyers had unlimited access to free cement to renovate their houses.
Jannie Bester, a handwriting ‘expert’ who was brought in from South Africa was paid more than USD $80 000. Yet, his testimony that the signatures in question were not ‘physically written onto these documents by the writer, but were transferred onto these documents by either electronic or mechanical means” was disputed by another expert Dr. David Joseph Klatzow of the Independent Forensic Consultants.
But this information is deliberately been withheld by lawyer Sakwiba Sikota S.C., when he publishes articles on his website fully funded by the Ventriglias.
It seems safe to conclude that there is no question on the issue of the shareholding in ZPC. The Ventriglias are minority shareholders while Dr Mahtani is the majority shareholder.
On the theft of monies during the short period the Ventriglias were in total control of Zambezi Portland, kindly see the tabulation below as compiled in a demand letter by lawyer John Sangwa.
It is clear that the embezzlement of $40 million, outright theft and money laundering has adversely affected ZPC and put into jeopardy the employment of over 1000 (one thousand) Zambians directly not to mention the thousands employed indirectly.
We may venture to ask, what did the Ventriglias do for the community in Ndola the time they were operating ZPC apart from polluting the neighborhood? Did they build social amenities, contribute to charity or renovate any old building? All they did was evading tax and externalize money to the far east or wherever they have other such operations.
We have also observed a pattern that, almost all the businessmen who are fighting Mahtani are people who owe him money. Does it ring a bell??? More to come. SEE ATTACHED DOCUMENTSCLICK HERE-THE TRUTH ABOUT ZAMBEZI PORTLAND CEMENT