BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
THE High Court has frozen an account at NMB Bank after US$300 000 was deposited into it with inadequate information on its origins, leading to authorities suspecting money laundering.
This was after Misheck Mudyariwa, whose NMB account was credited with US$300 000 had filed a court application trying to stop his bank from freezing his account.
He argued that the deposit was payment from a contract he had with a South African company.
But High Court judge Justice Manzunzu ruled in favour of NMB saying the details of the money must satisfy the bank in order for them to release the funds.
Through his legal practitioner, Advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara, Mudyariwa wanted an order to be granted to allow him to withdraw the funds within 48 hours from the date of order.
Court documents state that the US$300 000 was deposited into his account on March 24, 2022.
However, the transaction did not show any record on the mirror account T24 core Banking System. This then raised questions of legitimacy of the funds.
NMB then suspected the funds could be proceeds from money laundering because it was expected that Mudyariwa’s card should have a contra T24 record that provides origins of the funds.
The bank said it has statutory obligations to freeze the funds pending investigations. Mudyariwa is said to have failed to identify and verify the identity of the originator during investigations, including providing the originator’s address, identity number, or date and place of birth as stipulated by section 27 of the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act, [Chapter 9:241 (the Act).
He, however, said he obtained a loan from two SA companies, and produced a document which was an agreement between him and the companies.
Mudyariwa said he did not know the directors of the two South African companies, but only identified one as Gwekwerere.
NMB then reported the matter to the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on May 7, 2021 and later to the police.
In his ruling, Justice Jacob Manzunzu said: “It is mandatory as per section 27 of the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act for the respondent to have the information of the originator of the funds. The bank systems could not pick the funders details thereby raising suspicion that the funds could be illegitimate.
“It even became more so when a Mr Gwekwerere, who was brought into the picture by the applicant, refused to identify the funders and gave reasons for such refusal which may amount to a breach of the law within the funders location.”
The judge said it was inappropriate at this stage to order the bank to unfreeze the account.
“The application be and is hereby dismissed with costs,” Manzunzu ruled.