Zimbabwe’s Financial Intelligence Unit targets assets of diplomat, gold dealer

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The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), through its Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), intends to freeze suspected ill-gotten wealth belonging to prosperity gospel preacher-cum-diplomat Uebert Mudzanire and politically connected gold dealer Ewan Macmillan.

Mudzanire is also known as Prophet Uebert Angel.

The RBZ announced the move hours before the airing of an Al Jazeera documentary about illicit trade, smuggling and money laundering in Zimbabwe.

The exposé implicates the RBZ and senior government officials in the illegal black-market trade.

Mudzanire and Macmillan are subjects of the Al Jazeera investigation.

The four-part documentary, titled Unveiling Zimbabwe‘s Dark Secrets: Al Jazeera Exposes Looting, Plunder and Money Laundering, was meant to be broadcast earlier this month but was pushed back.

During that time, RBZ governor John Mangudya moved to defend the bank from defamation by those implicated in the syndicate because they risked bringing Zimbabwe to the attention of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), risking potential greylisting.

Greylisting would result in the flagging of all transactions of Zimbabwean companies and individuals as high-risk, resulting in complicated compliance and administrative duties. This would likely result in lower investment and trade opportunities.

Mangudya fell short of calling Al Jazeera fake news purveyors because, in snippets shown during adverts for the investigation, one of the subjects was filmed claiming he had the RBZ governor on speed dial and Zimbabwe was “southern Africa’s laundromat”.

The investigation’s first episode was broadcast on Wednesday.

Asset freeze

In a letter addressed to Zimbabwe’s Insurance and Pensions Commission, the FIU requested the identification of any assets insured in the names of Mudzanire and Macmillan.

Also wanted are properties once owned but disposed of by the two between January 2020 and March this year, “directly or indirectly through companies or trusts”.

The time frame covers the period that Al Jazeera undertook investigations for the four-part documentary.

The letters were also sent to other financial institutions and asset managers such as banks and the information should be submitted by the end of Thursday – a few hours before the documentary airs.

Under normal circumstances, the FIU will request similar information from other countries as they follow the trail of alleged illicit finances.

Comment from Mudzanire and Macmillan will be added once received.