RBZ to pay back seized funds


HARARE – The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) will return with interest, several millions of dollars seized from banks at the height of the country’s economic problems in 2007.

Linos Mazonde, the RBZ lawyer, said this yesterday in a case in which the central bank is appealing against High Court judge Nicholas Mathonsi’s ruling compelling it to pay back $1 million taken from Trojan Nickel Mine Limited (Trojan)’s BancABC account.

The appropriation of the funds followed a monetary statement issued by the RBZ in October 2007 centralising all foreign currency accounts.

Mazonde said the money was taken from banks in good faith following a monetary policy statement directing all banks to lodge foreign currency with the central bank.

He said the bank was immune to prosecution because of Section 63 (a) of the RBZ Act, which provides that, “No claim shall lie against the state, the minister, the bank, the board, the governor, deputy governor or any employee of the bank for anything that is done in good faith under the powers of this Act.”

Mazonde said: “It is not as if out of the blue, the RBZ called for banks to surrender these funds. It was acting in accordance with the (RBZ) Act.

“The money will be returned at 12 percent interest. Liability is there.”
He said the money will be returned at some stage to the banks and not to individuals.

Mazonde said at the time the money was taken, banks would use foreign currency according to the RBZ’s directive and in terms of the Exchange Control Regulations.

However, Trojan’s lawyer Lewis Uriri said the issue of good faith or absence of negligence was a matter of fact.

“The RBZ was not authorised to use the money as if it were its own,” Uriri said, adding that the issue of good faith cannot be taken for the first time in the Supreme Court, yet it was not raised in the High Court.

“Even assuming that it can be taken for the first time on appeal, the point of disposition aquo was the finding of the learned judge that an actionable wrong had been committed.

“Jurisdictional facts do not exist and on appeal, the question of immunity cannot possibly succeed,” Uriri said.

Judges Elizabeth Gwaunza, Bharat Patel and Anne-Marie Gowora yesterday reserved ruling in the matter.

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