Illegal forex dealings: RBZ launches massive crackdown on ‘errant’ banks

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By Alois Vinga

THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) division has directed banks to submit details of their suspense accounts within 24 hours as part of its investigations into financial institutions’ alleged illegal foreign currency dealings.

The directive came shortly after President Emmerson Mnangagwa banned banks from extending loans to individuals, companies and public entities among other measures aimed at stamping out what he described as the works of “economic hitmen” working to sabotage him.

FIU director general, Oliver Chiperesa ordered all banks urgently disclose details on their suspense and other internal accounts.

A suspense account appears in the books of an organisation in which items are entered temporarily before allocation to the correct or final account.

“The FIU has noted that some banks may be using suspense and other internal accounts under various descriptions for the purpose of purchasing foreign currency on the parallel market. In the result we intend to carry out an audit of such accounts,” Chiperesa said.

“The information should be provided by no later than Friday, 13th of May 2022 subsequent to receiving this information. The FIU may request detailed bank statements for all or some accounts. The FIU will take a serious view of a failure to disclose any particular account as requested therein,” he added.

However, a highly placed source anonymously told that the move is aimed at sniffing out bank suspense accounts transactions and other audit trails and possible connivance between financial institutions and customers suspected to be involved in illicit parallel market dealings.

While several key stakeholders have come out guns blazing criticizing the government for these measures, RBZ governor, John Mangudya this week called for calm saying these are short term measures which are necessary for market discipline installation.