FIU to curb illegal foreign currency dealings by airtime dealers

Staff Reporter

In a bid to ensure economic stability prevails in the country, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) working in conjunction with the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) have identified airtime dealers who are abusing their facility to perpetuate illegal foreign currency dealings and measures have been put in place to curb the abuse.

Speaking through a statement, the FIU revealed that it has noted with regret that some airtime dealers are abusing their facility to promote money laundering.

“The FIU has noted that bulk airtime recharge vouchers are being abused by airtime dealers to facilitate illegal foreign currency trading and money laundering.

“Airtime dealers have been purchasing vouchers in bulk from mobile telecommunication service providers using local currency and then disposing same at discounted foreign currency prices,” read the statement.

Explaining its measures to curb the scourge, the FIU tasked the mobile telecommunication service providers to put deterrent measures meant to curb abuse of the bulk airtime facility.

“Take steps to decrease the production and sale of bulk physical airtime recharge vouchers and promote the increased use of electronic airtime recharge; reduce sales of physical airtime recharge vouchers to twenty percent (20%) of all airtime sales by 31 January 2022 and to ten percent (10%) by 30 April 2022,” read the statement.

The mobile telecommunication service providers have also been tasked to submit a written plan to the FIU no later than 7 November 2021 detailing the measures to be taken to meet the above targets by the set dates.

As part of measures by the FIU to ensure that customers purchase airtime for personal use, customers can only be allowed to purchase airtime of not more than ZW$10 000 in value in any one transaction, and can buy up to five vouchers at a time, but not exceeding ZW$10 000 in total.

Meanwhile, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mthuli Ncube is on record saying measures that are being taken by the RBZ and the FIU have Government’s full backing.  He also said ZIMRA has been tasked with carrying out impromptu audits on corporates to check illegal foreign currency trading.   

“ZIMRA will be carrying out impromptu audits of corporate activities with a view of quantities with a view of quantifying potential tax liabilities arising out of illegal foreign currency trading; ZIMRA will also be carrying out compliance Audits with respect to compliance with the Location Tax introduced during the 2021 fiscal year,” said Minister Mthuli.

In recent weeks, the RBZ and the FIU have identified illegal foreign currency dealers for prosecution whose activities in currency manipulation on the illegal black market have affected the local currency and the economy.