HARARE – The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has appealed against a High Court order compelling the central bank to return $1 million seized from Trojan Nickel Mine Limited’s (Trojan) bank account at the height of the country’s economic problems in 2007.
The expropriation of the funds followed a monetary statement issued by the RBZ in October 2007 centralising all foreign currency accounts.
The Supreme Court appeal could not be heard yesterday after the central bank lawyer Linos Mazonde raised a point of law in terms of the RBZ Act.
Mazonde told the court that the bank handled the issue in good faith and hence must be immune to litigation.
However, judges Paddington Garwe, Bharat Patel and Anne-Marie Gowora said Mazonde should have given notice that he was going to raise such an issue.
Garwe said that Mazonde had referred to certain sections of the law that Trojan Mine’s lawyer Lewis Uriri might need to respond to.
“As it is, you are taking everybody by surprise, including this court,” Garwe said.
The matter was postponed indefinitely to allow Mazonde to comply with the rule.
However, Uriri said the postponement cannot take the matter any further.
“This is not purely a question of law, it is a matter of facts,” Uriri said.
The central bank allegedly raided private bank accounts to help fund the government’s operations as the country battled serious foreign currency shortages.
Most of the funds are yet to be repaid, forcing several affected companies to sue the country’s top bank.
The central bank approached the Supreme Court after a High Court judgment by justice Nicholas Mathonsi ordering the apex bank to return the $1 million seized from Trojan Mine’s foreign currency accounts at BancABC.
“It is ordered that judgment is hereby entered in favour of (Trojan Nickel Mine Limited) as against the (RBZ) in the sum of $1 007 541,30 together with interest a tempoe morae at the prescribed rate from the date of summons to date of payment,” Mathonsi said.
Mathonsi dismissed claims by RBZ that the central bank had no relationship with Trojan and that the miner must claim its money from BancABC.
He said that the RBZ forced BancABC to breach its contract with their client and insisted that it was the role of the courts to protect bank deposits.