RBZ reverses Gold Mafia accounts freeze
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THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) yesterday made a summersault by reversing its order for banks to freeze accounts of several government officials and individuals who were implicated in gold smuggling gold and money laundering activities exposed by the Al Jazeera documentary.
In a statement yesterday, the FIU directed financial institutions to “unfreeze all assets and other financial assets” belonging to those implicated in the documentary.
“The FIU, working in close collaboration with law enforcement agencies, has since concluded its analysis of the four episodes of the Al Jazeera documentary and has also analysed the financial assets and transactions of the persons implicated in the documentary and has determined that there is no good cause for the freezing order to remain in place. The FIU has not identified transactions / assets linked to money laundering and related financial crime connected to the allegations in the Al Jazeera documentary,” reads the FIU statement.
“In view of the above, the FIU has directed financial institutions to unfreeze all the accounts and other financial assets that had been frozen pursuant to the directive of 31 March 2023. The unfreezing action is without prejudice to any further investigations that law enforcement agencies may wish to commence or continue against any of the persons involved.”
Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda has, meanwhile, ordered Members of the House of Assembly to stop investigations into the Al Jazeera documentary saying the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) has already started processes to investigate the allegations.
In a memo addressed to the Public Accounts Committee and the Budget and Finance committee chairpersons, Mudenda said it was unfair for Parliament to continue investigating the matter since Zacc had embarked on similar investigations.
“Reference is made to the requests by the above two committees regarding the above matter. I wish to state from the outset that the matter is serious and of national importance,” said Mudenda.
“However, it is pertinent to note that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and the RBZ have already started processes to investigate the matter. In addition, the matters are of a complex nature and may require extraterritorial visits due to the alleged involvement of foreign players. In that regard, it is prudent to leave the investigations to specialised agencies like Zacc, and the police are better placed to investigate matters.”
Mudenda said Parliament would continue to monitor the investigations and will carry out its oversight role when the specialised agencies have completed their investigation.
“In addition the Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development conducted an inquiry into illicit financial flows in the mining sector in the course of last year,” he said.
“In reaching this decision I have also been guided by the stance taken by the South African government which has deferred to specialised agencies regarding the same issues.”
The documentary exposed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ambassador-at-large, Uebert Madzanire, alias Uebert Angel and the President’s niece Henrietta Rushwaya who were video tapped alleging that they could facilitate the movement of large sums of money and gold out of Zimbabwe.
Rushwaya, who is the Zimbabwe Miners Federation president, was arrested in October 2020 for allegedly trying to smuggle 6kg of gold out of the country.
She was, however, later acquitted.
In the documentary, Angel, who was appointed by Mnangagwa in 2021 to represent him in Europe and the Americas, makes a bold commitment to assist undercover journalists to launder more than US$1 billion in cash using diplomatic cover.
The documentary has attracted the attention of many in Zimbabwe, including Members of Parliament who are calling on authorities to take action against the exposed officials who include workers at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport. _*NewsDay*_