7 December 2018

Zimbabwe: Suspended RBZ Boss Appears in Court - Granted $6,000 Bail

One of the senior Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) suspended in October over corruption allegations appeared in court Thursday charged with criminal abuse of office.

Mirirai Chiremba - director of the RBZ's financial intelligence unit - appeared before Harare magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa who granted him $6,000 bail.

The charges relate to allegations that Chiremba approved bank withdrawal limit increases for a gold dealer without following procedures.

According to the State, Suzan General Trading opened an NMB corporate account at the bank's Borrowdale branch on October 13, 2017.

The account was meant to facilitate payments by RBZ subsidiary Fidelity Printers and Refiners for gold deliveries by the company.

At the material time the corporate withdrawal limit was $10,000 per day.

Court heard that on October 27, 2017, Suzan General Trading submitted an application at NMB seeking review of its daily withdrawal limit from $10,000 to $30,000.

The bank carried out due diligence exercises to determine justification for the upward review before referring the application to RBZ's financial intelligence unit for processing.

The application was reportedly approved by Chiremba on November 3 of the same year.

Prosecutors said the withdrawals in question were dependent on US dollar deposits made by Suzan General Trading into the same account.

"On February 23 2018 Suzan General Trading tendered another application for upward review of their company's daily withdrawal limit from $30,000 to $95,000 purportedly due to business expansion.

"NMB did due diligence before referring the letter to RBZ on behalf of the client," said the prosecutors.

Again, on in August this year, the company sought another upward review to $195,000 and followed the usual process.

However, while the application was still undergoing review process by NMB, Chiremba allegedly approved the application despite the fact that matter had yet to be sent to RBZ's financial intelligence unit.

It is State's case that Chiremba acted contrary and inconsistent to his duties as a public officer by reviewing the company's daily cash withdrawal limit from $95,000 to $195,000 without following procedures.

He will be back in court early January next year for routine remand.

The banker was one of four senior RBZ manages indefinitely suspended in October this year after corruption allegations were raised against them by activist Acie Lumumba.

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