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Econet bosses face forex charges

Godfrey Marawanyika

THE five Econet Wireless directors arrested on Wednesday are expected to be charged for failing to remit revenue raised through the cellular company’s roaming facilit

y and raising hard currency on the black market.

Douglas Mboweni, John Patterson, Tawanda Nyambirai (board chairman), Nyasha Zhou, and Anthony Eastwood will be charged under Section 5 (2) (b) (ii) of the Exchange Control (Regulations) Act (1996).

According to the regulations, a Zimbabwean resident who receives foreign currency should sell it to “an authorised dealer” or pay into “a foreign currency account as soon as is reasonably possible”.

Last night the five were moved from Borrowdale police station to Rhodesville police camp.

Speaking from police cells yesterday Eastwood said they were being charged under the exchange control regulations.

“We are being charged under exchange control regulations but we are not facing any externalisation charges,” Eastwood said. Asked about their conditions he said: “It is never pleasant to be behind bars.”

Mboweni is said to be facing charges as a director and in his personal capacity.

Canaan Dube of Dube, Manikai & Hwacha, who is now representing the three, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said the Econet directors were facing allegations of externalising foreign currency, including some US$3,6 million and raising foreign currency on the parallel market.

Bvudzijena said police had seen board minutes showing that Econet “instigated and encouraged its line managers to raise foreign currency in the black market”.

Johannesburg-based Econet boss Strive Masiyiwa refused to comment.

Eastwood was in the 1960s and 1970s one of the most notable legal defenders of nationalists charged with offences by the Smith regime. He agreed to appear for the Attorney-General’s office in the early 1980s after it lost a series of cases through poor presentation.

Telecel boss James Makamba was re-arrested on Tuesday for allegedly externalising funds. Makamba was recently released from jail after spending months in detention.

A number of businessmen, especially bankers, have been arrested during government’s anti-corruption crackdown for corruption and black market activities.

However, a number of them have fled the country to escape arrest.

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