At the height of their dispute with the multimillionaire Finance Bank Chairman Rajan Mahtani, two directors of the Zambezi Portland Cement (ZPC) company were illegally deported by the Zambian government, according to documents revealed by Zambia Reports.
In November 2012, the Luanshya-born residents Daniele Ventriglia and Valerio Ventriglia were served with deportation notices requiring them to depart Zambia within just four hours, allowing Mahtani’s company Finsbury Investments to take over physical control of ZPC and force the appointment of Andrew Kamanga as interim Chief Executive Officer.
The reason given by officials for the deportations were that the Ventriglias’ conduct represented “a danger to peace and good order of Zambia,” however in subsequent submissions before a Swiss Arbitral Tribunal, the family has alleged that the deportations were arranged by Mahtani in order to seize control of their company. According to court documents, they accuse Mahtani of using his political power over low-level PF officials to fast-track the expulsion of the two businessmen allegedly in order to seize ZPC as part of an illegal corporate raid.
Now there appears to be documentary evidence that immigration authorities acted illegally by deporting Daniele Ventriglia and Valerio Ventriglia. The officials rushed to carry out these deportations in open violation of a court order, released for the first time to the public by Zambia Reports, ignoring a standing injunction for judicial review that had been granted to the two businessmen.
In addition, the deportation paperwork shows some very unusual details. For example, instead of listing the minimum number of days that would be required to depart the country, the form declared only four hours before they would be required to leave their homes and birthplace, which appeared designed to prevent the businessmen from seeking assistance from higher ranking members of the PF government. At the time of the deportations, there were reports in the media that the late Minister of Information Kennedy Sakeni had commented that if he were still Minister of Home Affairs, he would not have allowed these deportations to take place for the private economic gain of a business opponent.
For several years the Ventriglias have been waging a hard-fought battle against Mr. Mahtani for control of ZPC, which they say was unlawfully taken over by the Finance Bank chairman through a conspiracy involving politics, forgeries, and controversial legal decisions.
Mahtani, who is widely acknowledged to have funded the 2011 Patriotic Front political campaign of President Michael Sata, has enjoyed many benefits since the new government came into power, including the restoration of his ownership of Finance Bank, which was taken over by Bank of Zambia when it was discovered that Mahtani individually owned more than 56% of the bank in violation of the law.
Zambia has experienced a number of politically and economically motivated deportations over the past two years. In 2012, a Catholic priest was deported to Rwanda for having criticised the government, and later the manager of the Taj Pamodzi Hotel was also deported allegedly over a personal dispute with an individual who had ties to the government. The government has also deported former executives of Zamtel, which was expropriated by the state shortly after taking power in 2011, as well as an executive of LaFarge Cement.