By Alois Vinga
SCORES of Stanchart senior managers have been implicated as accomplices who assisted the bank’s suspended chief executive, Ralph Watungwa in abusing the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) foreign exchange auction facility.
Last week, NewZimbabwe.com unearthed that the top banker had been sent on forced leave as he faces string allegations, including disposing company assets without following company procedures and embezzlement of foreign currency.
A highly-placed source at the financial institution said the Watungwa worked hand-in-glove with top management and other senior staffers to fleece the RBZ foreign exchange auction.
“It had become the norm for workers in this category to purchase foreign currency at official rates. They would even go to exchange such money at the parallel market rate and in turn used dubious company accounts or other masked bank accounts to purchase the foreign currency,” the source said.
“It is highly likely that over the period, they would purchase over US$10 000 per month and most of them were enriched through the scam.”
The source also alleged that when the parent company’s management in the United Kingdom, who unearthed the scandal, were left with no option, but to appoint senior managers from their subsidiary bank in South Africa to steer operations in Zimbabwe after realising the local shepherds’ hands were “equally dirty”.
However, it could not be confirmed whether the other implicated senior managers were still at work or had been sent on forced leave.
“What is heartbreaking is that non-management staff members are wallowing in poverty, carrying the burden of work while a chosen few were living large. I hope the central bank will get to the bottom of the matter to ascertain the real losses suffered,” the source added.
Stanchart’s head of corporate communications, Lillian Hapanyengwi has declined to comment, insisting matters affecting the bank’s employees are managed in strict confidentiality.
“You will, therefore, appreciate that as a matter of policy, we do not comment on personnel/individual staff matters,” she said in an earlier correspondence to NewZimbabwe.com.
Last year, the RBZ decried the lack of due diligence by local banks and accused them of approving suspicious bids to the foreign currency auction system.