RBZ seeks immunity to avoid repaying millions in looted forex

via RBZ seeks immunity to avoid repaying millions in looted forex | SW Radio Africa by Nomalanga Moyo October 4, 2013

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has appealed for immunity from prosecution as it seeks to dodge repaying millions of dollars it seized from foreign currency account holders during the height of the economic meltdown in 2007.

The appeal which is before the Supreme Court, follows an order issued by a lower court in June compelling the RBZ to return $1 million it seized from Trojan Nickel Mine.

In October 2007, RBZ governor Gideon Gono moved control of all foreign currency accounts to the central bank.

This ‘centralisation’ proved to be an excuse for the central bank to seize billions of dollars kept by other banks and authorised forex dealers, on behalf of companies and non-governmental organisations.

Gono said the move was meant to prevent the total economic collapse following years of ruinous policies and ZANU PF corruption and mismanagement.

During the period Trojan Nickel Mine, which had an account with BancABC, lost over a million dollars to the RBZ, which the miner is reclaiming through the courts.

In June the High Court ruled in favour of Trojan Mine, despite efforts by the RBZ to distance itself from the firm, citing an absence of a contract. The central bank argued that Trojan Mine should direct its claim to BancABC.

In his decision, Justice Nicholas Mathonsi said the RBZ could not hide behind the proverbial finger, and must pay back.

But determined not to pay and perhaps fearing a floodgate of lawsuits from entities whose funds were similarly looted, the central bank now says it has found evidence proving that it is immune from prosecution.

At a hearing Thursday, RBZ lawyer Linos Mazonde told the Supreme Court that his client had acted in good faith and therefore must be immune to litigation, citing sections of the General Laws Amendment Act. The lawyer asked for more time to furnish the court with this ‘evidence’.

However, observers say the RBZ is coming up with all these excuses when it is obvious that it just does not have the funds to pay back what it owes.

Economic analyst Masimba Kuchera said it was shocking that the central bank was seeking to use the law to abdicate its responsibility.

“For them to say BanABC or any other bank should be held responsible for the looted funds is shocking since the RBZ, as the financial services regulator, issued the directive to banks to surrender clients’ funds.

“The governor then used these to fund the quasi-fiscal activities that kept the regime afloat at the time. For them to try to seek recourse to the law for something which was illegal in the first place is shocking.

“It does not matter that the RBZ did not have a contract with Trojan Mine, the fact is that they issued the directive to the banks and expropriated other people’s funds which they converted to their own use,” Kuchera said.

Kuchera added that by trying to avoid paying back, the RBZ was demonstrating the culture of dishonesty that has come to be associated with the current government.

“And this does not inspire any confidence in anyone seeking to invest in the economy. What it means is that even local investors will not be keen to use normal banking channels for fear that their funds will be expropriated,” Kuchera said.

The Zimbabwe Aids Network (ZAN) is one of several donor funded organisations that lost more than $500,000 from Standard Chartered (Stanchart) Bank after the financial institution was forced to transfer the money to RBZ.

Despite suing both banks ZAN has received nothing, with the RBZ denying that it directed Stanchart to carry out the transaction.



  • comment-avatar

    How can you be immune from paying back the money you egg heads stole from us in 2008, and why dont you have the honesty and integrity to pay the money back? You are nothing but low down thieves, the lot of you…..

    • comment-avatar
      Diego Zhaba 10 years ago

      This is absurd to say the least.RBZ had no mandate to undertake some of the obligations it assumed then. This is what created this mess, where organisations who put trust and faith in RBZ being the custodian of their financial resources found themselves being short changed.
      RBZ remains accountable to the clientele it served and therefore should own up. Gono, became the financial playboy at the expense of the various organisations and companies, driving some crazy programmes eg BACCOSI etc all to serve personal interests and self-enrichment and now you wake up today to deny these companies what is rightfully theirs – is that fair. RBZ shouldn’t seek any immunity whatsoever but own up. The Supreme Court should dismiss this altogether and make RBZ accountable for its actions.

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    Thieves in broad daylight and not ashamed. There is no name but to spit on them

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    Macon Pane 10 years ago

    Just another example of ZANUPF’s concept of the rule of law.

    I fread once that a thief’s idea is “whatever is yours is rightfully mine if I can steal it”. They simply haven’t an understanding of “honesty”… pretty much defines ZANUPF, eh.

    So, if ZANUPF wonders why foreign investment is so scarce, there’s why, fellows. (And without foreign investment, the ship continues to sink.)

  • comment-avatar
    Chiwaridzo 10 years ago

    Where are all the ZanuPf supporters that post comments using this forum, a message for you all, now you can see why the country is in intensive care …. When the central bank steals from its own citizens and companies, there is nothing more to say…. Do not be surprised when there will be no support from investors or the IMF … This country is simply governed by thieves, murderers and liars.

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    Doris 10 years ago

    My God – they steal our farms, they steal our businesses, and furthermore, they steal honestly earned forex, without so much as – a by your leave – and then have the utter gall to challenge repaying what they have stolen in the courts. Zanu PF have absolutely no conscience whatsoever regarding the citizens of Zimbabwe. And then, they go to the World Bank to ask for help? Really?

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    zimbo 10 years ago

    what about our zim dollar balances that were in banking institutions at time of the death of our ZIM $ – when are we getting our funds converted to $USD?

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    Sekuru Mapenga 10 years ago

    If the Supreme Court rules in favour of the RBZ, it will be one of those clearly political judgments that will inform the citizens that “theft by the chefs is not illegal”.
    Thats the way it is here in Mr Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.

    • comment-avatar

      We’ve just seen how political the courts in Zimbabwe can be with regard to the recent rulings allowing Mugabe to rush the nation into a stolen election and then the same courts refusal to uphold the law and allow the RBZ and Mudede to stonewall on the voters roll and the election results so that MDC is unable to challenge the results. The courts just shut them down, even though the MDC was legally entitled to all that they were asking for. The rot in this country permeates everything that ZANU-PF touches. Take your money and get out if you can. Wait for the “great leader,” to die first and then see where the dust settles before you return.

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    Zeezee 10 years ago

    Zanu PF motto – what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine! Bloody bunch of thieves the whole lot of them!

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    munzwa 10 years ago

    this chap Gono should be sent to The Hague.Do’nt forget what happened to everyone’s pensions! The economy is stagnating and surely as day follows night they will be desperate again and therefor will resort to these sort of tactics!

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    Jrr56 10 years ago

    While they wriggle to find any excuse not to pay and try to find a judge to rule in their favour, they are planning the next round of theft. Watch your bank accounts!!!

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    Rapists; murderers, robbers, looters is what they all are. A leopard does not change it’s spots. Dishonesty, vote rigging and imputiny are their games. Cry for our beloved country

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    bingo wajakata 10 years ago

    I have said it before and I will say in again! Banking your money in a Zimbabwean bank is akin to giving a hungry lion a goat to look after. Move your money to safer places, the ZIM$ is coming back overnight and you will cry once more. What this space! Can you ever trust these people, imagine a reserve bank doing this?

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    Macon Pane 10 years ago

    Chiwaridzo, is right… where are the ZANUpf, their supporters and apologists..? What say you..? We await hearing your wisdom justifying such theft. Wait… WAIT… why you run away..???