….slams rubberstamping illicit deals
FINANCE minister Mthuli Ncube has read the Riot Act to public accountants and auditors accusing them of whitewashing and rubberstamping underhand foreign exchange deals carried out by both state-owned and private companies they should exercise oversight on, The NewsHawks can report.
Treasury, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and its Financial Intelligence Unit have over the past few months tightened screws on individuals and companies accused of manipulating the foreign exchange market seeking arbitrage opportunities.
Ncube (pictured) last month wrote to Admire Ndurunduru, Secretary of the Public Accountants and Auditors Board (PAAB), raising concern over inadequate regulatory oversight by the board over public and non-public entities.
The Finance minister said the conduct of some chief executives, chief financial officers and chief operating officers was in violation of the Public Accountants and Auditors Act.
“It has been observed that many companies including some named government related entities and parastatals are openly engaging in parallel market activities, violating exchange control regulations and on occasion; disregarding tax laws, amongst a number of related compliance matters,” wrote Ncube in a letter dated 22 October.
“Some listed corporations have been cited for poor disclosure of financial information, disregard of competition and consumer protection legislation amongst other related compliance matters.
“This happening with either the active condonation or implicit approval of members of the accounting and auditing professionals which includes member professional accounting bodies, who are superintended over by your board.
“In view of the foregoing, Treasury is of the view that your board has a professional and moral duty to ensure the maintenance of high standards of professional performance and ethical conduct by members of the accountancy and auditing professionals.”
On 309 October, Ndurunduru responded to Ncube requesting for an interview with the minister.
“In this light, the PAAB leadership kindly requests for a meeting with you to discuss these important matters. The PAAB is committed to protecting public interest and maintaining high standards of professional performance and ethical conduct by registered members of the accounting profession and acknowledges the gravity of the matters raised,” Ndurunduru wrote in a letter that was copied to the Deputy Finance minister Clemence Chiduwa, Misheck Sibanda, Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, George Guvamatanga, Secretary for Finance and Brian Njikizana, PAAB chair.
“The PAAB leadership is available to meet with you at your earliest convenience. The leadership’s availability also includes after hours should an opportunity available itself then.”
In January, the central bank froze accounts of several companies after the FIU revealed that some companies were engaged in parallel market transactions that were carried out on mobile money platforms.
Several months later the apex bank capped daily limits on mobile platforms such as EcoCash to tame the informal foreign exchange transactions which had piled pressure on the domestic currency.
Treasury also suspended trading on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange and froze fungibility of stocks among other measures to defend the value of the Zimbabwe dollar which has relatively stabilised over the past few months.