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AIDS charity fights to reclaim funds stolen by RBZ
Bell, SW Radio Africa
October 28, 2013
A leading HIV/AIDS
charity will later this week take the under pressure Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to court, in the latest legal challenge against
the bank’s theft of foreign currency.
officials from the RBZ, as well as officials from Standard Chartered
Bank (StanChart) will appear at the High Court, accused of misappropriating
an estimated $500, 000 from the Zimbabwe
Aids Network (ZAN).
In 2008, StanChart
was forced to transfer the ZAN donor funded cash to the RBZ, after
it ‘centralised’ all foreign currency accounts in 2007.
This was part of efforts to stem the imminent collapse of the economy,
which had suffered from years of economic misuse and bad policies
by the then Zanu-PF led government.
order saw authorised dealers of forex being forced to hand over
their clients’ money to the RBZ, which resulted in more than
a billion dollars worth of foreign cash being seized.
The ZAN, being
represented by the Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) will be having a pre-trial conference
this Thursday with the RBZ and StanChart as the First and Second
respondents in the case. ZLHR spokesperson Kumbirai Mafunda told
SW Radio Africa that the ZAN’s stolen cash was meant to be
used to assist with the ongoing battle against HIV/AIDS.
has a high rate of HIV infection and this money could have been
used in this fight. So we are just trying to assist Zimbabweans
to recover what belongs to them,” Mafunda said.
case is the latest in a series of legal suits against the RBZ’s
theft of the money, through financial groups like StanChart. Most
recently a Chinese-owned firm in Kwekwe, China Shougang International,
earlier this month won its case against Stanchart, after its funds
were seized following the RBZ order.
that it was not liable and urged the Chinese firm to approach the
RBZ instead. But the Supreme Court overruled this, and ordered StanChart
to pay the firm almost $50, 000.
The High Court
in June also ordered the central bank to return over US$1 million
to the Trojan Nickel Mine firm, whose funds were seized through
its BancABC account. The RBZ is appealing the High Court decision,
and has said the matter should be taken before BancABC.
Robertson told SW Radio Africa that a dangerous precedent has been
set where the banking institutions are being held liable for the
(the banks) certainly need to be worried… they did not have
the option to withhold the money from the RBZ. So that should have
been part of the court’s reasoning. And if they are forced
to find the money they might have to liquidate reserves and assets,”
Robertson said, warning that this move would have detrimental, knock
He added: “The
RBZ is unable to fulfill its own responsibilities and doesn’t
have the reserves to fulfill any other responsibilities. So it’s
an extremely messy situation that needs to be properly decided on.”
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