Zambia’s Konkola Copper Mines liquidator arrested

LUSAKA — The state-appointed provisional liquidator of Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), Milingo Lungu, has been arrested and charged with laundering more than $2 million, Zambia’s money-laundering authority said on Wednesday.

“The money is said to have come into his possession by virtue of being the Provisional Liquidator for Konkola Copper Mines Plc,” the Drug Enforcement Commission, which handles such cases, said.

Lungu called the allegations leveled by the commission “baseless and untrue” in a statement issued by KCM’s corporate affairs department later on Wednesday.

“I welcome the opportunity to clear my name in Court,” Lungu said in the statement. “This will be done following due process and not in the Court of public opinion.”

The commission alleged that Lungu, acting with others, “did engage in theft” involving 110.4 million Zambian kwachas and $250,000 between May 22, 2019 and Aug. 15, 2021, and “obtained money by false pretenses” amounting to $2.2 million.

“He has also been charged for money laundering for the said amounts,” the commission said.

Zambia’s previous government handed control of KCM to the provisional liquidator in May 2019, triggering a legal battle with Vedanta Resources, KCM’s parent company.

The government accused Vedanta at the time of failing to honor license conditions, including promised investment. Vedanta has previously denied KCM broke the terms of its license.

Lungu has been released on police bond and will appear in court soon, the commission said.

Vedanta declined to comment on the arrest. (Reporting by Chris Mfula in Lusaka, Writing by Helen Reid in Johannesburg; Editing by Emma Rumney, Timothy Heritage and Louise Heavens)

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