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LapGreen Network threatens legal action over Zamtel

Libya's LapGreen Network has threatened to take Zambia to the ICC International Court of Arbitration, alleging the country has failed to pay over US$382 million in compensation over the Zamtel saga.

Sources at the Ministry of Communications and Transport told ITWeb Africa that the Libyan company contacted the Zambian government and threatened to proceed with legal action and seize the country's assets abroad in order to recover its money.

Brian Mushimba, Minister of Communications and Transport, refused to comment and referred all queries to chief government spokesperson Kampamba Mulenga who also declined to comment.

In 2012, Zambia's current administration forcefully took over Zamtel's operation from LapGreen Network claiming that the 75% shares the company owned were corruptly sold by the previous administration.

LapGreen Network denied any wrong-doing in the manner it acquired the company.

LapGreen Network then took the matter to the Zambian High Court, where the government failed to defend its decision to repossess the company. Instead, officials decided to enter a consent judgement to compensate LapGreen Network its initial investment in Zamtel amounting to US$252 million plus interest, calculated at 8%, and other charges.

The total amount payable to LapGreen Network came to US$382 million.

According to the settlement agreement, the government was supposed to make an initial payment of US$114 million in November 2016, followed by biannual payments of US$35 million in February 2017 and August 2017 respectively.

The country's opposition, the Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) has since issued a statement through its spokesperson Antonio Mwanza demanding the government inform Zambians why it has failed to pay LapGreen Network and how it plans to settle the issue.

"The issue raises serious questions with regard to Zambia's capacity to repay the ballooning debt that our country finds itself in. The implications of the action that LapGreen Network is about to undertake have far reaching consequences with Zambia's standing on the global financial market especially now that the country is negotiating to get US$1.6 billion from International Monetary Fund," Mwanza said.

The government has failed to make public the report of a Commission of Inquiry, constituted by the late President Michael Sata, to investigate how Zamtel was sold to the Libyans.

By: Michael Malakata

Source: itwebafrica.com

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