Zimbabwe c.bank to freeze bank accounts due to illegal foreign exchange transactions
HARARE, Sept.28 (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s central bank has ordered banks to freeze the bank accounts of 30 people for two years it accuses of encouraging and facilitating illegal currency trading, it said Tuesday.
The southern African country has struggled for years with a severe currency shortage and only reintroduced its own national currency in 2019, ending a decade of dollarization.
But the local currency has lost value and is now traded on the black market at premiums of up to 100% of its official rate of Zimbabwe $ 86 against the US dollar.
Governor John Mangudya released a list of names he said used social media platforms and mobile telecommunications services to facilitate illegal currency trading and money laundering.
Zimbabwe’s foreign currency shortages mean that many citizens can only access dollars on the black market. Some resellers advertise their services in WhatsApp groups, which the government considers an offense.
Mangudya said that the central bank’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) asked banks to “identify and freeze all accounts managed by these people and, in addition, to deny them access to financial services for a period of time. two years, with immediate effect “.
The telecommunications regulator would also prevent those listed from operating mobile phone lines, Mangudya said.
Analysts say the official exchange rate, which is calculated from a weekly forex auction, is artificial and companies set their prices using black market rates.
The central bank and the public treasury often bristle criticisms of its exchange rate policy and argue that black market rates were not supported by any of the economic fundamentals.
Mangudya said the FIU forwarded the names of those accused to law enforcement for prosecution.
Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Nick Macfie
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