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RBZ targets money transfer agencies

Godfrey Marawanyika

TO formalise money transfers from Zimbabweans living abroad the central bank has introduced licensing arrangements for money transfer agencies, but the registered firms cannot handle more

than US$25 000 a week.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) says the regulations are part of efforts to provide a “more convenient, risk-free and transparent channel for those Zimbabweans in the diaspora wishing to transfer foreign currency to Zimbabwe”.

The regulation of money transfer agencies was done through Statutory Instrument 77 of 2004.

Under the new regulations, firms wishing to apply for money transfer facilities need to pay $500 000 while the minimum capital requirement is $100 million.

The minimum capital is required either in the form of cash or “moveable or immovable assets or any combination of the foregoing” the central bank said.

In February this year, the central bank said by April it would embark on a campaign to entice 3,4 million Zimbabweans living abroad to repatriate their money through official channels.

This policy was devised to try and help ease the foreign currency crisis facing Zimbabwe.

The RBZ has since set up a committee headed by Bulawayo-based economic commentator Eric Bloch to help facilitate the repatriation of foreign currency by locals outside the country.

The licensed firms are now required by law to transmit the foreign currency to the central bank before the end of working hours each week or when the amount received amounts to US$25 000.

Unlike other processes whereby the sender pays a certain commission for handling the money transfer, this time the RBZ has said the agency should demand charges or fees.

The central bank would then pay the agency commission.

The commission is agreed upon between the central bank “as mutually agreed between the money transfer agency and the Reserve Bank or at a fixed rate determined by the Reserve Bank”.

The committee headed by Bloch speculates that there are 1,1 million Zimbabweans living in the United Kingdom, 1,2 million in South Africa and 100 000 in the United States and Canada.

The committee thinks there are 300 000 Zimbabweans in Australia while it estimates that there are another 300 000 living in Europe, mostly in France and Germany, excluding the UK. Current and new money transfer firms have to apply for an operating licence.

The RBZ says any prospective manager to run the money transfer agency deals should not have at any stage been declared “insolvent or bankrupt”, and not been “rescinded or discharged”.

The central bank says the would-be managing director should not have been convicted of theft, fraud, forgery, uttering a forged document or perjury.

The person should not have been convicted of any offence and sentenced to a term of imprisonment exceeding six months.

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