In Malawi, the giant Columbia Gem House “forgot” to pay its taxes.

In Malawi, the giant Columbia Gem House "forgot" to pay its taxes.

Accused of tax evasion, US firm Columbia Gem House and its Malawian subsidiary must checkout if they are to continue exploiting precious stones in the East African nation.

On that day His website, Columbia Gem House plays the passion card. “We are gem lovers,” it says. If we are to believe Malawi’s authorities, even those who favor tax optimisation. However, the US mining giant, which claims to be operating in a “responsible” way, has been accused by Malawian Justice Minister Thapo Sakaga Nyirenda of not paying taxes it theoretically owes to its local subsidiary. Nyala Mines Limited.

Nyala Mines Limited pays just $600 in tax on Malawi’s $24 billion in annual mining revenue. The country’s justice minister believes Colombia Gem House and its subsidiary “violated their fiduciary duties and the law in Malawi, engaging in unfair business practices and inappropriate transfer pricing techniques, while failing to disclose all income earned from their investment in the Ruby and Sapphire Investigation”.

The concession to Nyala Mines Limited dates back to 2008. According to a document consulted by Le Journal de l’Afrique, the agreement commits the US company’s subsidiary to pay royalties to the Malawian government. But Malawi believes it has been duped and has vowed to take legal action against the company “and anyone who participated in tax evasion and fraudulent invoicing of exports”.

The Malawian government accuses Columbia Gem House of doing everything to avoid taxes. “Malawi’s position is that you have dishonestly changed the name of the mining company to Nyala Mines Limited to disguise the identity of the company, i.e. to make the new name of the company sound local and avoid all suspicion and detection,” the minister assured. A judge accused Nyala Mines Ltd of fraudulently exporting rubies and sapphires from Malawi.

The result: Malawi is now demanding billions of dollars from the US mining company. Magazines generate nearly $310 billion in revenue and interest.

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