CBZ awaits US response on US$385 million penalty

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By Alois Vinga

THE Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) is waiting for a response from the United States Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) over the status of the US$385 million worth penalty which was slapped on the financial institution for undertaking multiple transactions on behalf of ZB Bank which was then placed under sanctions.

Speaking to Business recently, CBZ chief executive, Blessing Mudavanhu said the bank was still awaiting a response from OFAC.

“We are yet to hear from OFAC following efforts invested in responding to the matter. As you may be aware, we have not been formally penalised and what happened is that the bank was only notified of the intention to penalise but our lawyers in United States are constantly working on the matter and updating us,” he said.

The country’s leading financial institution said that the matter has so far not affected the bank’s viability in any way.

When the scandal was unearthed, OFAC initially slapped CBZ with a US$3.8 billion fine after investigations revealed that the financial institution had committed 15 127 violations of the United States sanctions law on Zimbabwe.

The amount was however varied downwards to $385 million after mitigation and critical negotiations.

Meanwhile, CBZ managed to rake in ZWL$83.4 million in revenue in the first four months of 2019 as compared to ZWL$58.1 million revenue recorded as of December 2018 thereby registering a 44 % increase in revenue.

Up to April 2019, total expenditure stood at ZWL$46 million while underwriting income stood at ZWL$4.6 million.

The recorded growth was a result of strong income generation and diversification supported by investment in new products and technologically driven channels as well as well managed expenditure which stood well below the obtaining inflation levels.

However, Mudavanhu bemoaned the increasing costs of doing business in the country against a backdrop of revenue which is not increasing.

“Growth focus will be partly on transactional income where we pick out customers who enjoy doing business with us and we then make sure that we handle their deals like buying a house through us and the more we ring fence our clients then the higher we increase our income per wallet,” Mudavanhu said.