CHIEF executive officers of Zimbabwe’s banks are salting away offshore their foreign currency earnings, instead of banking with local financial institutions they head, Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) chairperson Loice Matanda-Moyo ( pictured) has revealed, citing a survey her organisation conducted.
The Zacc boss said bankers are salting away money offshore. They only keep local currency accounts, yet they are paid substantial amounts of hard currency in salaries and perks.
This comes as Finance permanent secretary George Guvamatanga, former managing director of Barclays Bank Zimbabwe, last week told a local weekly in an interview that he was paid millions of United States dollars offshore.
Guvamatanga said this in a bid to justify his lavish 50th birthday and reckless spending on a razzmatazz party featuring South African musicians that he paid five times more than the agreed performance fee.
Many Zimbabwean businesspeople, including tycoons like Billy Rautenbach and some unknown entrepreneurs, mainly of Asian (Indian) heritage, have bank accounts in Switzerland and other overseas financial jurisdictions.
A report by Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project on how Zimbabwean tycoon Kudakwashe Tagwirei made his money through Trafigura Group says he holds an offshore account with a Swiss bank.
Rautenbach’s business empire was also revealed last week in the Pandora Papers, the biggest leak of secret financial dealings by the global elite. Although it is not illegal to open an offshore account, compliance with exchange control and money laundering regulations is always a moot point in moving the money.
The NewsHawks — which collaborates with various international investigative journalism networks — has seen a long list of 700 names of Zimbabwean businesspeople with Swiss bank accounts in one massive database yet to be released.
One mysterious local businessperson had about US$150 million in their Swiss account, but the money was quickly drawn down to US$7 000 in a space of four years before the account was closed.
The details are given in the database. Some have bank accounts and properties in Dubai, for instance one socialite operating in the aviation industry space. She has a property in Dubai.
Addressing delegates during the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) 2021 congress in Victoria Falls this week, Matanda-Moyo said failure by financial institution CEOs to bank their money with their own banks as shown by their study further erodes confidence in the banking sector.
“Trust is very essential and if we are going to move forward, we really need to build trust. Let’s look at the banks. The CEOs of banks don’t bank money with the banks. We carried out that survey,” she said.
“So, if a CEO of a bank does not have confidence in his or her own institution, who is then going to bank the money in those banks? Nobody. That’s the highest level of corruption. So, we want to implore CEOs of banks to start banking, especially foreign currency, in their banks, then everybody will start banking their money,” Matanda-Moyo said.
Zacc’s revelation that Zimbabwe’s bank chief executives, who are paid in hard currency, do not bank locally, is a startling development which speaks to the level of confidence in the local financial system and policies.
Research shows that Zimbabweans banking outside the country prefer Switzerland, Dubai, Mauritius and the Cayman Islands, a British overseas territory which encompasses three islands in the western Caribbean Sea.
Confidence in Zimbabwe’s banking sector is at an all-time low because people and corporates no longer have any trust in the system. Bank closures and abuse of depositor funds have been the hallmarks of factors that have led to erosion of trust and confidence in the financial system.
The Zacc boss accused the country’s private sector of being the major driver of corruption in the country.
“I think the private sector, you are the major culprit of corruption in Zimbabwe. We only started in government because we realised that if we started with the private sector there was going to be an outcry to say why starting with us not the government? Private sector’s corruption is the one which is really causing damage to the economy of Zimbabwe,” Matanda-Moyo said.
“Take, for example, tax evasion. Most companies and individuals are not paying taxes. We do have mis-statements at the points of entry. When you import your goods you mis-state the values of those goods. On importation, we have found that you love inflating the figures. Why? Because you will have externalised most of the money,” she said.
“That’s why you mis-state and then again you start saying this machinery cost US$20 000 when it cost US$2 000. When you export you then minimise the prices. Why? Because you do not want to pay the duty associated with that exportation.” Matanda-Moyo said they carried out an investigation into the exportation of tobacco to the Netherlands and found out that tobacco companies misstated export figures.
She said that in 2019 the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency had export figures with were far lower than the numbers independently obtained by Zacc from the country’s trade destinations. Tobacco export figures to the Netherlands, for instance, showed that exporters are grossly understating their numbers in this country, prejudicing the tax collector.
“That is corruption from the private sector. So you can see the amount of corruption being perpetrated by the private sector,” she said.