Letter from Mr Ketan Kotecha, Afrimex
(UK) Limited to Mr Melvin Holt, United Nations Expert Panel
Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity
to come and explain the background of our company and its activities
in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We very much appreciate
the professional manner in which the meeting was conducted between
you and your colleagues Mr Andrew Danino and Mr Alex Rose with
Mr Satish Kumar and myself. We hereby recap our main points of
1. Our family started trading activities
in DRC (formerly known as Zaire) in 1962 led by my father Mr R
2. Our main activities include importation
of commodities and general consumable articles as well as the
distribution and selling through our network of branches. In 1996,
we also invested in the only sugar factory in the region, being
the major shareholder. In addition, we have set-up a plastic moulding
unit in Bukavu.
3. Over the years our volumes have increased
manifold and we can proudly say that we cater to 60% of the basic
needs of the local population in items like wheat flour, sugar,
salt, rice, milk powder, cooking oil, tomato paste, batteries,
etc to name a few.
4. As the business increased we have made
substantial infrastructure investments in the region in the form
of properties and transportation.
5. In addition to the importation, we have
been exporting minerals like cassiterite, coltan and wolfram and
medicinal plants such as Quinquina. We are one of the few authorised
licensed mineral exporters since last 20 years. The licenses have
been renewed every year by the authorities in place in Kinshasa
until 1998 and thereafter in Goma. We have been paying our taxes
to the authorities in place and we have no means of verifying
the proper use of the taxes paid by us.
6. Our family is actively involved in various
charitable work such as paying annual school fees for a number
of students under the project of "Fonds Kumud Kotecha",
supporting local hospitals and immunisation programmes, etc.
7. As DRC has gone through a lot of political
uncertainty and unrest in the last 40 years, our business has
also gone through many ups and downs during this period and we
have borne the brunt. Being one of the oldest business houses
in the region and with heavy investment in place, we have to continue
our activities despite the heavy losses and risk suffered by us.
But we console ourselves that we are some help to the local population
in this situation. We only hope situation comes to normal as early
8. In view of the reputation of our business
and the fact that we are working in DRC since the last 40 years,
we were extremely disturbed to see our name in the report of the
UN Panel. We would like to emphasise that an established group
like ours is marginalised and suffers the most in this kind of
political instability but still ensure that we do not take advantage
of the situation.
We believe that above information will enable
you to appreciate the complete background of our group and its
activities and therefore request that our name should be removed
from the Annex III of the Final Report of the Panel of Experts
on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Others from
the Wealth of DRC. Finally, we assure that to the best of our
knowledge we have always respected the OECD guidelines and intend
to continue doing the same and assure of our full co-operation
at all times.
22 May 2003