Darlington Musarurwa Deputy News Editor
All companies and individuals that were recently named by Government for allegedly externalising funds and assets were contacted by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to explain their transactions, but failed and will soon have their day in court, a Cabinet minister has said.
On Monday, President Mnangagwa published a list of 1 844 alleged externalisers who failed to return an estimated $1 billion after the expiry of a three-month amnesty that ran from December 1 last year.
However, close to $600 million has so far been recovered.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa yesterday said those implicated were individually contacted by the central bank, but “for reasons best known to them” failed to respond.
He said as far as he was concerned, no one is “disputing the facts” presented by RBZ.
“There cannot be an industry-wide complaint on the list; each matter has to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis because their circumstances differ with each individual case. From what I understand, they were each individually contacted and informed and told that they had to respond, but they didn’t for reasons best known to them,” said Minister Chinamasa.
“Now, let’s take it where we are: from my information, they is no one who is disputing the facts of the matter; they are actually pleading with the Reserve Bank.
“Government has no intention for any innocent person to be punished. Those who have queries are free to write to the RBZ to explain that the facts are not true.”
Minister Chinamasa indicated that those implicated in breaking the law will be referred for prosecution.
“The law is clear. Some are even questioning the legality of repatriating funds, but anyone who thinks they can export and are not legally obligated to repatriate the proceeds can have their day in court.
“If someone was given foreign currency to import and they have nothing to show for it and they feel that they are not accountable, they can say so in court.
“If they get cash from our banks and deposit the same money in foreign banks without informing the central bank, let them have their day in court,” he said.
Cases involving externalisation, he added, fall under the remit of international anti-money laundering legislation, whose enforcement is done under the auspices of the United Nations Security Council.
Zimbabwe, which is a member of the Eastern and Southern African Money Laundering Group, domesticated the international law against money laundering through enacting the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act in June 2013.
In 2014, penalties for breaching for the law were reviewed from $600 to $500 000 through Statutory Instrument 2 of 2014.
Yesterday, Minister Chinamasa intimated that some foreign banks had red-flagged some of the cases.
“Banks are required to inform of suspicious deposits, which means banks outside Zimbabwe are obligated under international law to inform the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
“We are similarly required to do that for banks outside Zimbabwe,” he said.
According to Minister Chinamasa, there was need for individuals and companies to abide by the law and “restore order from the previous chaos”.
He also indicated that those who feel that they are some names that need to be included on the list, are supposed to take the initiative and raise the issue with the authorities in their personal capacity.
The list that was published on Monday showed that the country was prejudiced through non-repatriation of export proceeds, payment of imports not received in Zimbabwe and funds banked in foreign financial institutions under questionable circumstances.