Image Credits: AllAfrica
Former CIO boss Happyton Bonyongwe has rejected claims that a Chinese national the spy agency worked with on its Marange diamond concessions was an international criminal.
Bonyongwe, who also briefly served as justice minister ahead of last November's military coup, was appearing before the parliamentary portfolio committee on mines this Monday.
It was the second time he has been summoned to answer questions on how the CIO failed to realise that Sam Pa, whom the agency partnered at its Kusena mine in Chiadzwa, was a globally recognised criminal.
The businessman was arrested on corruption charges by the Chinese government in 2015 and remains in detention.
NewZimbabwe.com columnist Ken Yamamoto described Pa as "former spy with strong military and high-level connections" whose "operations ranged from the amoral to morally questionable and unquestionably illegal".
Monday's hearing was part of a series being held by legislators on the Marange diamond "looting", including the missing $15 billion claim by former president Robert Mugabe.
In a previous hearing, the CIO delegation claimed that the vetting of Sam Pa was done at the highest level.
However, while refusing to name the person who recommended Pa citing national interests, Bonyongwe said the Chinese businessman had no shady past at the time they engaged him.
In fact, the ex-CIO boss stated, Pa came "highly recommended" having "transacted" in other countries and with respectable networks including former Chinese president Xi Jinping.
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