It seems despite the continuos deterioration of the local dollar is not deterring the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe from trying to prop it up by any means necessary. Unlike in times past when they have gone after a couple of company accounts as they last did a few weeks ago, this time they are going after actual agents whose accounts the bank’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) is linking to illegal forex trade.

Directive to Freeze Bank Accounts of Attached List of Ecocash and OneMoney Customers (Agents) Suspected of Involvement in Illicit Foreign Currency Transactions and/or Money Laundering

Please find attached list of Ecocash and One Money customers suspected of involvement in illicit foreign currency transactions and / or money laundering.

You are directed to identify all accounts of the listed persons/entities that are linked either to Ecocash or to One Money (i.e. accounts that allow the customer to move funds between the bank account and the mobile money wallet, and/or vice versa) and to, immediately freeze such accounts.

You are also required to submit by close of business on 3 May 2020, KYC information in respect of each customer, including (a) details of the accounts identified and frozen including balances, (b) business address of the entity, (c) names of all directors (d) name and contact details of the MD/CEO (e) list of the shareholders (f) list of the Ultimate Beneficial Owners and (g) the entity’s nature of business and source of funds.

It is critical that the freezing is effected immediately as any delay can result in funds being moved from the accounts before freezing is effected.

Part of the order to banks.

After this the directive goes on to list the actual agent codes for both OneMoney and Ecocash that the banks ought to freeze immediately.

Will this work?

Probably not. Back when the RBZ first started to do this the result was a dramatic fall in rates. We might see a temporary dip in rates here too, maybe just as dramatic as agents cower and take a little step back. However that is unlikely to last. The thirst for foreign currency is real especially as Zimbabwe’s already suffering industry goes through a lockdown and everything the country needs has to be imported.

So the dip will eventually be reversed and soon rates will climb beyond 50 again especially if the government dishes out more money to stem the effects of Covid-19

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