HomePoliticsPolice probe M&G bank account

Police probe M&G bank account

Gift Phiri

GOVERNMENT’S crackdown on the Mail & Guardian (M&G) intensified this week with police obtaining a subpoena to access the paper’s account at Century Bank.

e=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>The subpoena required the security manager at Century Bank to supply information about the M&G account from January 1 to this week. The document also demanded records of all cheque transactions done during that period. The police were investigating possible contravention of the Reserve Bank Act.

However, the Reserve Bank in a statement on Wednesday said it was not aware of any investigation and had no reason to suspect the M&G was in breach of the RBZ Act.

“From our records and pending cases, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has not had any reason or cause to investigate the M&G for the alleged misdemeanours,” said Mirirai Chiremba, the division chief for Bank Use Promotion and Suppression of Money Laundering.

“We do not have reason or information to suggest that M&G has a case to answer to us. Accordingly, we are unable to intervene to stop the courts who appear to be acting on a complaint or information filed by the member-in-charge, ZRP – CIU (Commercial Intelligence Unit) Harare Central as stated in the documents faxed to us. Maybe the police can shed more light on this issue which has certainly not stemmed from us.”

Officials at Century Bank declined to disclose details about the police visit.

Sources in the bank however told the Independent two officers from the CIU, Detective Sergeant Mwadewenyu and Constable Katsenga, visited the bank on Wednesday morning armed with the subpoena and asked to see all the M&G account information held by the bank.

“They took bank statements dating back to January and also a document advising the addition of Mr Raphael Khumalo (Independent group general manager) as a signatory to the account,” said the source.

M&G publisher Trevor Ncube said yesterday it was the policy of his companies to ensure that the laws of all the countries they operated in were respected.

“Business all over the world thrives where there is law and order and where the rule of law is upheld,” he said.

“We are however alarmed by recent developments in Zimbabwe where the law is selectively applied and where government institutions are personalised and abused.

“We are shocked by this invasion of privacy under the pretext of investigating externalisation of foreign currency. This latest move is clearly a fishing expedition.

“The intention, we suspect, is to create a pretext for the authorities to take action against the M&G in Zimbabwe,” Ncube said.

“While we are confident the move will fail to uncover any evidence of impropriety on our part, we have no doubt this episode represents yet another attempt by the Zimbabwean authorities to curtail press freedom.”

Ncube said in view of the Reserve Bank’s statement that the M&G was not under investigation, it was clear that “somebody somewhere is abusing the police for their own agenda”.

The police last week visited the newspaper’s distributors after allegations in the state media that the M&G’s owners had plans to print the paper in Zimbabwe.

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