On June 7, 2019, a Zimbabwean newspaper called the Zimbawe Independent published an article denouncing a EUR 120 million tender scandal involving the Dutch company Integrated Energy BV .
This company had won the tender to build the waste incinerator of the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, in violation of legal public tendering procedures.
As we have explained before , these tactics are very similar to how Integrated Energy, under the leadership of entrepreneur Klodian Zoto, has won a EUR 140 million tender to build a waste incinerator in Tirana.
For this reason, Samukange Hungwe Attorneys, a law firm in Harare, claiming to represent Integrated Energy BV, has sent a letter to the newspaper asking for the full correction of the article, threatening a $ 500 million lawsuit. Otherwise known as a SLAPP, this is a common tactic used to silence media under the threat of crippling legal action often with no basis in the law.
Zimbabwe Independent journalist Andrew Kunambura forwarded this letter to the Exit.al editorial office for publication.
In the letter of claim, defendant ER Samukange claims that:
“Zoto is in no way affiliated with Integrated Energy BV and he is not of Dutch nationality.”
This statement is worth considering for two reasons. If Klodian Zoto is not really affiliated with Integrated Energy BV , how do they know he has no Dutch nationality?
Moreover, Exit.al has published in the past data from the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, which clearly shows that Mr. Zoto is on the board of Integrated Energy BV .
The claims of the law firm are in contradiction with the data of the Chamber of Commerce: Klodion Zoto has been on the board of directors of the company, at least at the time when this company has won tenders in Albania.
According to a VOA investigation , Zoto left the board of Integrated Energy BV in March 2018 and was replaced by a shell company called Almares Management BV based in Amsterdam, with appointed directors and unknown ownership. This leaves room for doubt that Zoto wanted to erase any trace in the documents.
Such Dutch shell companies have often been used by Albanian companies to win dubious concessions, conceal conflict of interest and evade taxes. However, Zoto is still registered as an administrator of the sister company in Albania, Integrated Energy Solutions .
The indictment further alleges that information published by Indepedent Zimbabwe about Integrated Energy’s activities in Albania, including winning a tender for a waste incinerator in Tirana, constitutes a “violation of the privilege of journalists. ”
In fact, Andrew Kunambura and his colleague Chipa Gonditi simply write a summary of known facts, previously published by Exit.al in the years 2016-2017.