HomeBusiness DigestUS$400 000 theft exposes RBZ security lapse

US$400 000 theft exposes RBZ security lapse

THE theft of US$400 000 from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) last month has exposed security system lapses at the central bank.

The alleged theft was done in dramatic style reminiscent of movies, leaving questions about the security system at the central bank which is the custodian of the country’s banking sector.
The accused workers, taking advantage of the laxity in the system, allegedly drew up a plan on May 14 this year. The accused are Sydney Pamire, Stanley Tichaona, Muscelyn  Mopinyu and Greyson  Buzuwe, who were arrested last week. Pamire is employed by the central bank as a supervisor teller, while Tichaona is a teller and Mpinyuri is a manager for retail banking. Buzuwe is still at large.
The plan was simple; Pamire allegedly approached Maxwell Shumbayaonda who was the acting  vault  custodian at that time and convinced him that Tichaona wanted
US$400 000 for a client whose name was not disclosed.

Pamire and Shumbayaonda proceeded to the bank vault where they took US$400 000. This amount was signed in the vault register which is a record of cash deposited or withdrawn.
The two then gave the money to Tichaona who signed for it in the inter-teller register as acknowledgement of receipt.
On receiving the money, Tichaona then followed standard procedure of inputting this information into the computer system.

Tichaona and Pamire then used Charity Dzobo (another employee who was not on duty on that day)’s password and deposited the US$400 000 into an RBZ suspense or inter-company account.
They used Vandudzai Ndoora (who was also not at work on the day)’s password to authorise the transaction, that is depositing the US$400 000 into the suspense account.

At RBZ, a suspense account works as a bridge between two divisions within the bank and there is no manual posting done in this account. It is an electronic transfer of funds to reflect the amount being handled with no manual movement of cash. Under the central bank regulations, no teller, supervisor or manager is allowed to make any transactions on this account.
In a normal situation, Mpinyuri should have noticed the anomaly but did not.
It is alleged that Mpinyuri teamed up with Tichaona to destroy the teller log, which has all documents pertaining to this transaction.
Mpinyuri and Tichaona allegedly pulled out all relevant papers to the transaction from the inter teller book used by the latter and destroyed them as cover up.    :
The four then went away with the US$400 000 which they allegedly shared equally.
Almost a month later, on June 10, Tsitsi Hungwe who works in the accounts division queried an anomaly with the suspense account. The figures on the suspense account did not tally and there was a balance of US$400 000.

Hungwe then sought an explanation from a supervisor, Trouble Mugarisanwa, who is responsible for reconciliations and mandates.
Mugarisanwa started investigations and on the same day, Pamire allegedly tried to influence him to offer a cover up.
On June 13 a report was made at Harare Central Police Station leading to the arrest .
Police recovered US$ 254 000 and  R15 310 .

Of the recovered amount, Pamire was allegedly found with US$83 400 and R7 250, while Tichaona was found with US$96 500 and R8 050. Mpinyuri was found with US$74 100.
Sources in the banking sector said it was strange that the central bank took almost a month to discover the anomaly. It was also shocking that passwords were easily accessible at the central bank, which means a bigger amount could still be lost.

Leonard Makombe

 

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