By Mary Taruvinga
A Harare man froze some US$300,000 in a local bank after failing. He reportedly failed to explain how and why his money ended up in his account.
The High Court recently heard that the money was deposited into Meshack Mudyariwa’s NMB account in March last year.
NMB then froze the account in accordance with the law after realizing it could have been laundered.
The matter has since been reported to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s Financial Intelligence Unit and the police, who are said to be investigating.
Mudyariwa has so far failed to explain the source of the funds and has tried unsuccessfully to get the money through the courts.
High Court judge, Justice Jacob Manzunzu, ruled last week that the money should remain frozen because Mudyariwa failed to account for it.
“It would be counterproductive for the defendant, while making efforts to comply with the law, to take no action to freeze the account. This would practically mean that the plaintiff would withdraw all the money, regardless of the outcome of the investigations,” the judge said.
“The matter has been reported to the intelligence unit and the police and will be investigated. It would be inappropriate at this stage to order the respondent to unblock the account.
“In any event, if the applicant has demonstrated a clear right to the account, and the possible damage that he will suffer, he has not demonstrated the absence of an alternative remedy. Another remedy was available to the Applicant to have the Respondent’s decision reviewed.
“Such a remedy gives him similar protection. In any event, if the applicant had been assisted with the identity of the originator of the funds, as required by law, this would constitute an alternative remedy. »
Mudyariwa had approached the High Court, challenging NMB Bank Limited’s decision to freeze his account in accordance with the provisions of the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act (Chapter 9:24), which seeks to suppress abuse of the financial system.
The law also allows for the identification, freezing, seizure and eventual confiscation of the illegal proceeds of all serious criminal and terrorist acts.
Mudyariwa said the money came from a loan taken from two unidentified South African companies.
In his request, Mudyariwa insisted that NMB Bank was withholding his money for no reason.
He said the money was legit.
However, the identity of the originator of the funds was kept under lock and key.
The director of the two South African companies, a certain Gwekwerere, allegedly refused to reveal the identity of the initiator of the funds, explaining that the donors were acting contrary to their national legislation, which prohibits such financing in Zimbabwe being a countries under sanctions.
However, the judge said it was mandatory for the bank to have information about the originator of the funds.
“I think the suspicions were reasonable, especially in this era of rampant corruption,” he said, before ordering that Mudyariwa’s account remain frozen while investigations continue.