MORE than 1 800 individuals and corporates who were linked to externalising nearly US$1 billion by contravening exchange control regulations will soon be hauled before the courts.
Prosecutor-General Mr Kumbirai Hodzi is presently assembling a team of specialist commercial lawyers to prepare for the cases, which could possibly lead to forfeiture of assets belonging to those who would have been convicted.
In 2018, President Mnangagwa published a list of individuals and corporates who had failed to heed his call to repatriate the externalised funds after the expiration of a three-month amnesty.
The list of shame categorised the looters in three broad categories — those who externalised funds through failure to repatriate export proceeds; payment of imports not received in Zimbabwe; and funds stashed in foreign banks in cash or under spurious circumstances.
It also included 1 844 corporates and individuals in mining, agriculture, manufacturing and cross-border freight.
From US$1,4 billion that was spirited out of the country, US$591,1 million was recovered through the amnesty, while $826,5 million remains outstanding.
PG Hodzi told The Sunday Mail that specialist lawyers will look through individual cases.
“The PG’s Office is establishing a panel of experts on some of the anti-corruption matters,” he said.
“You remember when the President came into office he released a list of persons who had violated our exchange control regulations, and we gave them a grace period to come clean.
“Well, those that seek to exploit the good grace of the Executive and think they can get away with it are mistaken.
“We have a panel of lawyers that is going to come, which is going to look at each and every one of those cases.
“We are setting up a panel of expert commercial lawyers who are specialists in that area, who will look into those cases ahead of prosecution. . .”
He said authorities will not hesitate to forfeit assets deemed to be proceeds of crime.
A multi-agency taskforce, he added, has been assembled to tackle economic crimes.
“The bottom line is that there are going to be very robust prosecutions, which are unapologetic, and the results will speak for themselves.
“There will be super-efficiency in the PGs Office because we know these persons will do anything to protect their livelihood and means of survival through corruption, which is a multibillion-dollar industry in Zimbabwe.
“You can see the mansions they are building but they are not paying their taxes, the cars which people are driving on the roads but when you investigate them you will find that they would not have paid any taxes.”
It is believed that most of the externalised funds were channelled to China, Botswana and South Africa.
Announcing the list, President Mnangagwa said: “It is against this background that the authorities have no other recourse to cause these entities and individuals to respond other than to publicise them so that concerned parties take heed of the importance of good corporate governance and the legal obligations of citizenry, and where necessary to ensure that those responsible for such illicit financial flows are brought to justice.”
The NPA has so far seized assets valued at over US$13 million found to be proceeds of criminal activities.
A further US$30 million worth of assets have been frozen pending confiscation proceedings at the High Court.