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Zimbabwe asks US to help remind banks that sanctions eased

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Bloomberg


Zimbabwe has asked the US to remind banks that Washington has recently eased some of its sanctions on the southern African nation.

“We requested the US Treasury to issue an advisory note to US banks that they have lifted sanctions and that Zimbabwe is open for business,” Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube told reporters Friday during an online briefing from Washington.

Zimbabwe officials met with the US Treasury to make the request, he said. The delegation is in Washington to attend the Spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

In March, the US updated its sanctions program and said American entities may re-examine their stance on Zimbabwe, even as it applied sanctions to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and other top officials.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe estimates that at least 100 correspondent banking relationships were lost over the last two decades because of the country’s perceived high risk due to sanctions.

The Bankers Association of Zimbabwe said lenders in the southern African nation have several correspondent banks in different currencies. “Focus is mostly on the US dollar where direct clearing arrangements with US banks are difficult to come by,” said Lawrence Nyazema, the association’s president, by text message on Saturday. “Most banks are clearing US dollars through other stronger banks in South Africa and elsewhere.”

Zimbabwe’s own banks have adequate mechanisms in place to counter money laundering and terrorism financing, with the country’s removal from the grey list two years ago evidence of sufficient controls, George Guvamatanga, Secretary for Finance and Economic Development, told the briefing.