RBZ launches manhunt on illegal forex dealers

Patience Rashai

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is appealing to members of the public to report social media users (WhatsApp) conducting illegal foreign currency deals/business, in a bid to arrest the runaway parallel foreign exchange market.

In a statement, the central bank’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) outlawed the abuse of social media for purposes of illegal forex trading.

 “The FIU is aware of WhatsApp groups that have mushroomed in the country for the specific purpose of promoting and facilitating illegal foreign currency trade,” read the statement.

“The FIU in collaboration with the police, banks and mobile money/phone service providers and relevant regulatory agencies has embarked on an exercise to identify and take action against individuals who create, advertise on or participate actively or passively in WhatsApp groups or other platforms for illegal foreign currency trading.”

The monetary authorities have since introduced a cocktail of measures intended to curb this misuse, which includes the sharing of mobile phone numbers used to join or advertise forex dealings with other mobile phone operators and telecoms regulatory board POTRAZ for barring.

Other mobile phone numbers registered in the names of such persons also face barring.

“Any mobile money wallets registered in the names of such persons be frozen and the persons barred from accessing mobile money services with any operator. Bank accounts owned by a person so identified will be frozen and the person will be blacklisted and barred from accessing banking services with any bank,” it said.

Identified persons would also be investigated and prosecuted for illegally trading.

The official interbank rate has seen the Zimbabwe dollar trading at 1:25 against the United States dollar, whereas the parallel market has since risen to 1:92 this week.