Select Committee on International Development Written Evidence


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 discussion:

  1.  Our family started trading activities in DRC (formerly known as Zaire) in 1962 led by my father Mr R O Kotecha.

  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 as possible.

  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

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