Executives Face Penalty Charges Over Abuse Of EcoCash Platform

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By Alois Vinga

TWO executives of mobile money transfer platform, EcoCash, face penalty charges for allegedly destabilising the country’s already fragile economy through failure to manage the system.

The warning was delivered to EcoCash chief executive Natalie Jabangwe and Eddie Chibi, a director, by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Financial Intelligence Unit acting director, Oliver Chiperesa.

“We write to advise you of the intention to penalise Ecocash Private Limited’s chief executive, Natalie Jabangwe and Eddie Chibi, EcoCash Director in terms of sections of the Money Laundering and Proceeds Act (Chapter 9:24) for the failure to comply with obligations imposed on financial institutions and their officers, employees, directors and agents,” reads the letter.

According to the FIU, the duo’s conduct resulted in incompetence, ineptitude, and unprofessionalism in the execution of management duties.

The four charges levelled against them also include the failure to comply with mandatory requirements of a directive issued in terms of the Act (Item 26 of Table of Civil Infringements. AML/CFT Directive No. 2 of 2014).

This charge emanates from EcoCash ignoring a directive to freeze the accounts of agents who transacted above ZWL$100,000 per month.

“EcoCash management didn’t comply. Eddie Chibi instead approached the High Court seeking immediate reprieve and suspension of the directive,” the letter said.

The second charge is emanating from the failure to comply with any obligation relating to customer identification. The charge is levelled with two alternatives which accuse the duo of failure to maintain records as required and failure to timely avail to the FIU, upon request, these records.

The third charge emanated from failure to report high volume suspicious transactions as required.

The final charge arose after disclosure of transactions to third parties despite prohibitive regulations.

The RBZ recently accused mobile money transacting platforms for carelessly conducting business in a manner that has seen money exchange rates going out of hand. Most foreign currency dealers use the EcoCash platform to undertake their illegal transactions.

Last week, the apex bank introduced more measures affecting EcoCash agents. Banks holding mobile money trust accounts are now only allowed to let their account holders pay into these trust accounts and have to enforce the Know-Your-Customer (KYC) banking requirements.