(Updates with police comment in second paragraph.)
July 27 (Bloomberg) -- South African special criminal investigators raided the Department of Mineral Resources and Imperial Crown Trading 289 Ltd. in a probe into a dispute over rights to Anglo American Plc’s Sishen iron ore mine.
“We are busy investigating charges of forgery, uttering, corruption and fraud,” the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation, known as the Hawks, said in an e-mailed statement today. “In simple terms, these relate to among others, falsifying of documents.”
Anglo unit Kumba Iron Ore Ltd. and ArcelorMittal South Africa Ltd., controlled by the world’s biggest steelmaker, have asked the High Court to reverse the Department of Mineral Resources’ award of prospecting rights over a portion of the Sishen iron ore mine. ArcelorMittal South Africa lost its rights over 21.4 percent of the mine after failing to renew the title, prompting Kumba to cancel supplies or iron ore to the steelmaker at prices significantly below market levels.
The Hawks visited the mineral department’s regional office in Kimberley and the head office in Pretoria today, the mineral resources department said in a statement. ICT lawyer Ronnie Mendelow confirmed the raid when reached on his mobile phone.
ICT’s owners include Jagdish Parekh, a business partner of South African President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane. Parekh declined to comment when reached on his mobile phone.
The Hawks also conducted search and seizure operations at a house belonging to a suspect who works for ICT, it said in the statement. The unit is investigating allegations that Department of Mineral Resources staffers were involved in fraudulent issuing of prospecting rights, it said.
The Hawks received “assistance from the State Attorney’s office in Pretoria,” it said. Tlali Tlali, spokesman for the Department of Justice, didn’t answer calls to his mobile phone, which wasn’t taking messages.
ArcelorMittal South Africa’s dispute with Kumba is of “concern” to the government as it may affect steel prices in the country, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said last month.
--Editors: Alex Devine, John Viljoen
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