Reserve Bank raises red flag on Econet forex dealings

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has moved in swiftly to thwart Econet’s suspected default aid in money laundering and acting as a conduit for promotion of illegal foreign currency dealings  through its mobile financial service platform Ecocash, Zim Morning Post can  reveal.

 Zim Morning Post understands that RBZ Financial Intelligence Inspectorate and Evaluation Unit (FIIE Unit) which was formerly known as  The Bank Use Promotion and Suppression of Money Laundering Unit,  last week ordered Ecocash  to suspend some agent lines which they dictated to have irregular transaction patterns with some trading as much as RTGS$200 000  to RTGS$1million in a single day.

 “The Financial Intelligence Inspectorate and Evaluation Unit (FIIE) has been monitoring this for some time.

“What was happening is that forex dealers would apply for agents lines and use the Ecocash platform to wipe out the United States dollars on the streets at premium black market rates.

“This is tantamount to money laundering and its a pity that that Econet turned a blind eye on such huge inflow and outflow of funds.

“Of course EcoCash is a licensed mobile payment platform that facilitates financial transactions but if they are genuine they must have some instruments or control measures to  monitor such accounts.

“It is clear that Econet is in bed with the forex dealers just like they did with the Ponzi scheme some years back,” revealed our source who spoke on condition of anonymity  .

This publication has it on good authority  that hundreds of forex dealers who had their agents lines suspended were battling to recover their money running into hundred thousands of dollars.

RBZ governor John Mangudya told Zim Morning Post on Thursday that Ecocash like any other financial institution is supposed to be  accountable to Financial Intelligence Inspectorate and Evaluation Unit (FIIEU)  hence the FIIEU cracked a whip on Econet mobile financial service Ecocash.

“Each institution, financial and non financial , is supposed to be responsible and accountable to the FATF requirements.

“The Financial Intelligence Inspectorate and Evaluation Unit (FIIEU) as per statutes  monitors compliance,” said Mangudya.

The FATF recommendations are the internationally endorsed global standards against money laundering and terrorist financing, they increase transparency and enable countries to successfully take action against illicit use of their financial system.

This is not the first time Ecocash has been caught in the eye of a storm in regards acting as a conduit for money laundering and pyramid schemes.

In 2016 , Ecocash was accused of involvement with pyramid scheme MMM Global Zimbabwe which fleeced unsuspecting citizens hundred thousands of dollars.

EcoCash then flighted a disclaimer and  declared its stance on promoting safe and legal transactions and stated that they will not be held liable for any losses arising from the use of its platform to engage in “illegal” activities such as Ponzi schemes

In 2004, Zimbabwe adopted the Bank Use Promotion and Suppression of Money Laundering Act, which among other things, created a structure to co-ordinate anti-money laundering measures. The Bank Use Promotion and Suppression of Money Laundering Unit, now formally known as the Financial Intelligence Inspectorate and Evaluation Unit (FIIE Unit) and is intended to be an integral part of the Reserve Bank.

 As a repository of financial and economic information, the Unit has the key task of constructing co-operative relationships with local state and non-state structures to improve access to the information vital for the enforcement of laws against money laundering.

As such, by swooping on Ecocash the (FIIE) was merely delivering its mandate.

Econet group  Fungai Mandivei was not available for comment at the time of writing.