Bring back $250 million or else… President will name and shame those who refuse amnesty
About 100 top business and political personalities suspected of externalizing over $250 million have been given letters of demand by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, as efforts to get the money repatriated gather pace.
This comes as President Mnangagwa yesterday told the Zanu PF Central Committee that he had the list of externalisers whom he will publicly shame if they do not respond to the gazetted three months’ amnesty to return the funds.
As reported in our first issue in July, over $3 billion was shipped out of the country illegally since 2015 by companies and high ranking individuals.
It has now emerged that a list of about 100 culprits facing suspected to have externalized a combined $250 million were given letters of demand, warning them against attempts to escape. The letters, according to sources detailed all known facts to alleged criminal acts.
A source close to the developments said: “The central bank gave a number of letters to highly placed individuals who include heads of parastatals and some private companies to return externalized funds, gold and other properties.
“The newly gazetted Statutory Instrument 145 of 2017 is expected to buttress the repatriation of funds until March 2018. “It’s not yet known whether these people will return the recorded value of their assets or not.”
Another close source who also requested not to be named said: “These people are well known and it includes some of the who’s and who in business (names supplied) and they have been under the radar for weeks now.
“It’s obvious some of them will try to escape one way or the other, but all eyes are on them, their every move is being closely monitored through cooperation of various establishments that deal with law enforcement and State Security.”
A top Reserve bank of Zimbabwe official who spoke to Business Weekly on condition of anonymity confirmed investigations were at an advanced stage with the net closing in on a long list of culprits who externalized hundreds of millions of dollars.
“This has been happening, but the process is being tightly managed to avoid interference.” Finance and Economic Planning Minister Patrick Chinamasa also confirmed the exercise was ongoing although he could not give further details.
He said investigations of such a nature were under the purview of RBZ Governor John Mangudya, adding the central bank chief would know specifics.
Efforts to get a comment from Dr Mangudya were fruitless as he had not responded to questions at the time of going print. Based on the available information, the culprits externalized an average of $2,5 million each.
Zimbabwe’s biggest gold producer, Metallon Gold is facing allegations of externalising over $30 million through dividends paid to shareholders without profits to back them and fictitious external loan payments.
Meanwhile, Government last week gazetted amendments to the Exchange Control Act by inserting a section providing for amnesty in respect of illegally expatriated property for a period until March 1, 2018.
The Exchange Control Inspectorate Department, under the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, is responsible for compliance with the relevant regulations while the central bank Governor shall have authority to do anything necessary for the efficient and effective application or implementation of the statutes.
An application for amnesty should be in writing and in the form furnished by the Exchange Control Inspectorate Department providing among other matters the name of the principal or facilitator and the amount or value of property due for repatriation.
In the case of currency, the relevant particulars for the receipt of the currency at a local banking or financial institution and the particulars of the transaction by means of which or under the guise of which the property was expatriated and the estimated time within which the repatriation of the property in question will take place. Moreover, the property must be repatriated in full by the 31st of March 2018.
The Exchange Control Inspectorate department shall not extend the period of repatriation by more than 180 days. All applications are expected to be determined within 10 days of receipt unless further information is required. On compliance, the Exchange Control Inspectorate department issues a receipt to the applicant.
The amnesty can be applied for in respect of illegally expatriated property comprising any of currency, gold, precious stones and securities that the applicant or the amnesty exported, externalized or expatriated from Zimbabwe, that originated from Zimbabwe or are proceeds of any trade, business or other occupation or activity carried on by him or her in Zimbabwe.
Moveable or immovable property acquired domestically or outside Zimbabwe by use of the currency, gold, precious stones and securities as well as proceeds of any sale or other alienation of any movable or immovable property also fall under the schedule.
According to the gazette, some of the forms of illegal
expatriation of property carried out by resident individuals and or corporate entities include non-repatriation of export proceeds due to Zimbabwe, non-return of temporary exports and disguised exports of exports, payments for imports of goods and services whose corresponding value has not been received in Zimbabwe, remittance of funds used for investments offshore without exchange control approval, offshore retention of funds realized from sale of shares in local companies to foreign residents, offshore retention of investment income such as dividends and profits and management fees due to Zimbabwe.
Further, the list includes remittance of funds for repayment of fictitious offshore loans, settlement of purchase prices offshore for an immovable property located in Zimbabwe, operation illegal offshore bank account funded from Zimbabwe, offshore retention of sale proceeds realized from goods or minerals smuggled out of Zimbabwe and any other retention of funds offshore which were supposed to be received in Zimbabwe or which were not sanctioned by Exchange Control or provided for in current Exchange Control Policy.
Persons who facilitated the illegal expatriation of the property also qualify for the amnesty. Any application for amnesty shall be invalid in respect of any illegal expatriated property not disclosed in the application for amnesty (and) in respect of any action resulting in the detention, seizure or forfeiture of any property which action commenced on or before December 1 2017.