File picture: Carl De Souza

INTERNATIONAL – London-listed Acacia Mining said on Thursday an employee at its North Mara mine in Tanzania had been charged with corruption, but had pleaded not guilty and had been granted bail.

The employee was “responsible for signing cheques for approved payments made by NMGML at the time, including a cheque regarding the agreed LTF process,” the miner said, referring to the Land Task Force (LTF) set up by the government and North Mara Gold Mine Limited (NMGML).

Two government employees were also charged over receiving funds from North Mara Gold mine through the LTF transaction, Acacia said, while more charges were made against other government officials for their relationship with the mine.

Tanzania’s anti-corruption authority said in a statement dated Oct. 10 that two senior employees at North Mara paid 93,896,000 Tanzanian shillings (R595887.07) to a member of the task force “as a bribe to get favourable treatment to North Mara Gold Mine on a survey that was to be conducted by the task force.”

Acacia, which is Tanzania’s largest gold miner, is locked in a long-running dispute with the government which has accused the company of tax evasion. Acacia has denied any wrongdoing.

The spat culminated in a $190 billion tax charge against Acacia and an industry-wide ban on the export of raw minerals.

In July 2017, Acacia said its local employees had been interviewed by Tanzanian government agencies.

Acacia said allegations over the LTF at North Mara between 2013-2015 have been investigated over the past four years, adding that it was working with the authorities.