Cash leakages expose banks

CHIPA GONDITII

A PROBE into the leakage of new Zimdollar notes onto the parallel market by the Reserve Bank has exposed the role banks have played in fuelling illicit activities through the direct release of cash.

A statement released by the central bank yesterday shows that Ecobank Zimbabwe and CBZ are now facing disciplinary action after a preliminary investigation revealed that some of newly released Zimdollars in circulation on the parallel market emanated from these commercial banks.

New notes this week found their way onto the black market, prompting the central bank to action following a public outcry.

“The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has taken note of pictures circulating on social media that show recently introduced 2 dollar bank notes in sealed packs, suggesting that the notes are already being traded on the parallel market. The bank has conducted investigations on the matter and the findings are that the bank notes in the circulating pictures emanated from Ecobank,” RBZ governor John Mangudya said.

“Preliminary investigations by RBZ at Ecobank indicate that an amount of ZW$15 000 was withdrawn by one of their customers. Ecobank together with their customer are now assisting the Zimbabwe Republic Police with further investigations on this matter.”

In a separate statement, the central bank revealed that a picture of a black plastic bin full of new coins circulating on social media belonged to a CBZ customer.

“Investigations by RBZ at CBZ indicated that an amount of ZW$44,180 was withdrawn by one of their customers in this regard CBZ and their customer are now assisting the Zimbabwe Republic Police with investigations,” he said.

There was a huge outcry after foreign currency dealers were seen trading new Zimdollars despite the notes not being readily available in banks, where customers are limited to withdrawing only ZW$300 per week.

RBZ governor Mangudya threatened unspecified disciplinary measures against the banks while criminal investigations are also in progress.

“Appropriate disciplinary measures shall be taken against the bank and the customer and anyone else found responsible for such malpractices which bring the RBZ and the entire banking system into disrepute. Such malpractices cannot and should not be condoned,” he said.

“The bank would like to advise the public on how banks withdraw cash from the RBZ. The procedure is such that banks transfer the equivalent amount of their cash requirements to the RBZ through the RTGS system. The banks will then collect the cash from the RBZ to their central cash deposits from where they distribute to their branch network.”

The RBZ introduced new ZW$2 and ZW$5 bills to the market on Tuesday as part of its firefighting measures to address a serious liquidity crisis bedevilling the country.