Sometime this week we learnt that despite there being no foreign currency auction even the RBZ was not just sitting on their laurels. Rumour has it that several bankers including the CEO of StanChart Zimbabwe’s CEO Ralph Watungwa have already been caught in the net. He is being abused of exploiting arbitrage opportunities presented by the forex auction and using his position to make sure he is able to get forex at the auction before unloading it to the black market. If rumors are to be believed, and they are believable given what we know, he was not alone
Now the Financial Intelligence Unit, the RBZ’s arm that is supposed to fight such crimes as well as money laundering has all but confirmed the rumour is true. They issued a statement earlier today which does not name names but that is to be expected it’s hardly proper for officials to name individuals before they are themselves formally notified of investigations and/or charges. Below is the statement from the FIU.
Tip of the iceberg
While this is all noble and proper, these bankers are probably the ones that were caught in the dragnet. Given the tempting lure of riches to be made by exploiting the disparities between the official and unofficial rates it would be surprising if every bank in Zimbabwe doesn’t have personnel that teamed up with outsiders to exploit this lucrative opportunity. Right now the official rate is around 108 ZWL while the unofficial rate is around 240 ZWL. That means you can double your investment if you can get foreign currency at the official rate and unload it on the black market. Seriously the question is not who and how many people have done it. The real question is who wouldn’t?