Zim cricket crisis sucks in Gono

Darlington Majonga

THE Zimbabwe cricket crisis has sucked in central bank governor Gideon Gono, who has launched a probe into allegations of irregular foreign currency dealings at Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC).
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Gono last week summoned ZC chairman Peter Chingoka and managing director Ozias Bvute to explain how the union has repatriated the foreign currency earned from television rights as well as lucrative sponsorship deals.


The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s Financial Intelligence, Inspectorate and Evaluation Unit raided ZC offices last Thursday and searched for hard cash before picking up Chingoka and Bvute for questioning.


Chingoka yesterday said they were cooperating with the RBZ investigators.


“We have had some very constructive meetings with RBZ officials,” Chingoka said. “ZC will continue to cooperate fully with the RBZ officials as they guide us in ensuring compliance with their requirements.”


Although Chingoka could not shed light on the investigations, Gono reportedly descended on ZC after disgruntled provincial chairmen compiled a dossier suggesting shady financial transactions at the cricket body.


Bvute confirmed their discussions with the RBZ unit centred on the allegations raised by the chairmen, but could not get into the details.


“We’ve not been arrested. We held a meeting to clarify issues and get guidance from the exchange control authorities,” Bvute said.


The RBZ yesterday also refused to discuss the probe but did not deny summoning the ZC officials.


“It is not our practice as a central bank to disclose whether interactions with Zimbabwe Cricket are of a consultative, investigative or of a social nature,” RBZ spokesman Kumbirai Nhongo told the Zimbabwe Independent.


“However, we wish to advise that apart from the supervision and surveillance of banks, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has an arm that looks into the economic behaviours of various players.”


The provincial cricket chairmen in their dossier wanted to know how ZC was repatriating its forex from offshore accounts. They also wanted to know whether Chingoka had repatriated a £50 000 honorarium he was paid last year “according to exchange control regulations”.


The dossier also queried rumours that a female ZC employee had allegedly disappeared with US$75 000, raising suspicions the union might have been stashing hard cash at its offices in contravention of Zimbabwe’s tough exchange control regulations.


Chingoka dismissed the allegations as “financial mudslinging (that) appears to be the final strategy in the anti-ZC destabilisation campaign”. He however said he was ready for an audit.


However, indications late yesterday were that ZC would once again fail to convene a board meeting scheduled for tomorrow where Chingoka intended to respond to the chairmen’s concerns.


“We have not received favourable responses to our desire to hold a meeting tomorrow,” Bvute said. “We have not shied away from answering their queries.”