Zimbabwe's president threatens to prosecute forex culprits


Harare (AFP)

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Monday named hundreds of mines, Chinese businesses and individuals who had illegally transferred foreign currency abroad during Robert Mugabe's rule and warned they would be prosecuted.

The announcement came after the expiry of a three month amnesty for the return of funds including export proceeds, payments for phantom imports and "funds transferred to foreign banks in cash or under spurious circumstances".

Authorities say Zimbabwe lost at least $1.4 billion (1.1 billion euros) in revenue as a result.

When Mnangagwa took over as president in November following Mugabe's ouster, he issued a three-month ultimatum urging those who had illegally taken money out of the country to either bring it back or account for it.

"Despite concerted efforts by authorities and banks to request these entities and individuals to account for the externalised funds, the entities or individuals failed, ignored or neglected to respond to the amnesty," he said in a statement.

He also released a list of 1,403 offenders.

"The authorities have no other recourse but to cause these entities and individuals to respond and, where necessary, to ensure that those responsible for such illicit flows are brought to justice."

The dealine saw $591 million being returned while another $826 million remained outstanding, officials said.

According to the list, mining companies were the major offenders with African Associated Mines said to have sent out $62 million; Marange, a joint venture state-Chinese diamond miner spiriting out $54.2 million, Mbada Diamonds $14.7 million, Jinan Mining, another joint-venture with the Chinese, $11 million and Canadile $41.3 million.

The list also included the national indigenisation board which oversaw the implementation of the country?s controversial equity law, several Chinese businesses, and individuals such as Elias Musakwa, a music recording company executive who is also a ruling ZANU-PF party parliamentary aspirant.

Zimbabwe?s economy has been on a downturn for over a decade with high unemployment and a cash crunch which has seen banks limiting cash withdrawals.