BANKERS’ Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ) president Charity Jinya absolved banks of any wrongdoing for putting individuals or companies on the externalisers’ list, as the concerned parties had ample time to explain themselves through the moratorium.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
Speaking to NewsDay after a breakfast meeting organised by the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce in Harare last week, Jinya said the list of looters released about two weeks ago was generated based on transactions banks had captured on their systems.
“It remains that they may have explanations that they have not been paid or the goods have not arrived, but it does not remove the fact that what should have come into the country has not arrived, that is why that list is there. What I was referring to is that if clients have explanations as to why either the goods have not moved into Zimbabwe or the funds have not been remitted in Zimbabwe they must formally explain. Banks, in turn, will use that to explain to the regulator, who is the Reserve Bank. Without that, they cannot just talk about it; they need to formalise their position,” she said.
Jinya said if it was more than 90 days, then an opportunity existed for banks to write to clients asking for that transaction to be cleared.
“That gives an opportunity to explain why it [a company] should be off the list and that happens all the time which is why I was saying that generally, yes, no one is perfect,” she said.
“Mistakes happen, but there is a process where banks communicate with clients and clients communicate with banks formally. That information is then passed to the Reserve Bank because this is a system that is also under control of the Reserve Bank.”
President Emmerson Mnangagwa last year issued an ultimatum giving companies and individuals 90 days to return $1,3 billion that was reportedly illegally shipped out of the country.
There was an outcry recently when the government named and shamed the looters, with some companies claiming they had not been contacted by their banks about any outstanding issues and were, therefore, surprised to find their names on the list.
For example, a local company that manufactures LED light bulbs and tubes that was on the list of “looters” was present at the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting. The company is a client of Nedbank Zimbabwe, previously named MBCA Bank.
The LED manufacturing company owner said he was unable to supply documentation for the imports they made. He blamed the confusion on Zimra’s ASYCUDA system which was down and had led to his company being listed alongside other suspected looters.
“If my situation is the situation of all companies on that list, then that list is fake,” he said.
The man did not reveal his name or that of his company.
The list was split into three categories namely: funds externalised to foreign banks in cash or under spurious transactions; funds externalised through payment of goods not received in Zimbabwe; and funds externalised through non-repatriation of export proceeds.
Most of the complaints from the listed companies were in the category of funds externalised through payment of goods not received in the country, a section that has the most names listed at 1 401, alleged to have externalised $124 846 957 of the total $826 503 404 on the list.