FIU freezes 522 accounts, monitors suspicious transactions

09 Jun, 2024 - 00:06 0 Views
FIU freezes 522 accounts, monitors suspicious transactions

The Sunday Mail

Richard Muponde and Nyore Madzianike

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has frozen 522 bank accounts belonging to companies and individuals, while 140 entities and individuals have been heavily fined as part of an ongoing clampdown on those who violate exchange control regulations.

Focus is now on suspicious transactions that include use of multiple bank cards to deal in foreign currency and inconsistent shopping behaviour.

Some of the measures are meant to defend the new currency, the Zimbabwe Gold (ZiG).

In an interview with The Sunday Mail, FIU director-general Mr Oliver Chiperesa said: “Frozen bank accounts from January 1 to June 7 stand at 522. The reasons for freezing include traders found to be manipulating exchange rates, as well as where our routine transaction monitoring and analysis identifies bank accounts that are being misused for illegal foreign currency trading.”

Of late, the FIU has been focusing on those who move large sums of money using multiple bank cards.

Mr Chiperesa said “patterns that are inconsistent with normal shopping behaviour” are also being flagged.

“The latter category also includes accounts that are linked to bank cards

that are being repeatedly used to make purchases from shops in patterns that are inconsistent with normal shopping behaviour,” he added.

“These are cards used by middlemen, who accost customers in and outside shops, asking the customers to use the ZiG cards to make their purchases while they give the middleman the agreed US dollar equivalent.”

From January 1 to last Friday, he added, 140 entities and individuals have been made to pay hefty fines for such transgressions.

FIU’s surveillance also targets manufacturers and suppliers that are refusing to accept the ZiG.

“Some retailers were complaining that they were selling their products in ZiG, yet they buy mostly in US dollars from their suppliers, which were either not accepting ZiG or were taking only up to 15 percent of the invoice value in ZiG and demanding the rest in US dollars,” he said.

“As a result of the increased enforcement measures, more and more manufacturers and suppliers are falling in line, thus increasing compliance levels across the entire supply chain.”

The authorities, however, say there is increased compliance levels in the formal sector.

“Traders are actually permitted to use the forex selling rate used by their bank, rather than the published average interbank rate, as this is a more accurate reflection of the cost of forex when they apply for forex from banks to fund their imports,” said Mr Chiperesa.

“The totality of the measures being implemented by the Government and the central bank have been a big success in maintaining the value of the ZiG. As the FIU, our mandate is to support and enforce those policies and measures to defend our currency and ensure consumer purchasing value is not eroded by actions of those that may want to destabilise and weaken the country’s currency.”

Separately, the Pharmaceutical Wholesalers Association (PWA) said pharmaceutical retailers should report wholesalers that were not accepting the ZiG.

This comes after complaints from retailers about some intransigent wholesalers.

PWA chairperson Nyasha Bandason said: “As compliant corporate enterprises within PWA, pharmaceutical wholesalers in the industry embrace the local currency, ZiG, and support the Government’s call to accept the ZiG. Individual retailers should contact their procurement suppliers with individual purchase agreements and resolve accordingly.

“Nevertheless, if there are specific cases of non-compliance or challenges faced by retailers in their interactions with pharmaceutical wholesalers, we request that they promptly provide us with the relevant details and we can raise the matter with our members.”

The Government, through the RBZ, introduced the gold-backed ZiG currency on April 5.

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