Barrick Gold Corp. is facing criticism from a prominent Tanzanian politician for not doing enough to free three employees of its Tanzanian operations who were jailed 20 months ago and allegedly used as pawns in a multiyear tax dispute between Barrick and the Tanzanian government.
In 2017, Tanzania banned former Barrick subsidiary Acacia Mining PLC from exporting gold concentrate and demanded it pay US$200-billion in back taxes.
In October, 2018, Acacia executives Deo Mwanyika, Alex Lugendo and Asa Mwaipopo were charged with money-laundering offences and imprisoned without chance of bail. At the time, Barrick owned 63.9 per cent of Acacia.
Speaking to media earlier this week, Zitto Kabwe, leader of the Alliance for Change and Transparency, one of Tanzania’s leading opposition politicians, said the Acacia employees were held hostage as a bargaining chip, “to put pressure on Barrick to reach an agreement.”
In late January, Toronto-based Barrick finalized a pact to end the dispute, agreeing to pay Tanzania a US$300-million fine and splitting future profits on the mine 50/50. Despite the resolution, the Acacia employees have not been released from jail.
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