Gono set me up – Butau

BULAWAYO - The British embassy in Harare has rejected as "nonsense" claims by President Robert Mugabe's government that it was offering a safe haven to high-profile Zimbabwean criminals.

The statement comes after ruling Zanu (PF) legislator David Butau, who was wanted by the police for allegedly violating the country’s tough foreign exchange regulations, fled to the United Kingdom last week.

“Allegations of a deliberate policy of harbouring Zimbabwean criminals are nonsense. David Butau was issued with a five-year visitor’s visa in 2004. He is not on the EU (European Union) visa ban list and is free to visit the UK for six months at a time while his visa is still valid,” said the British Embassy in response to questions sent on the matter.

At least 130 Zanu (PF) officials are barred from visiting the UK under targeted sanctions imposed on President Robert Mugabe’s senior lieutenants about five years ago.

Butau fled to the UK last week after the Zimbabwean authorities indicated that they were keen to interview him for allegedly violating the country’s foreign currency regulations.

President Robert Mugabe’s spokesperson and government spokesman George Charamba accused the UK of applying double standards after it offered a safe haven to Butau.

Speaking from the UK this week, Butau, who chairs the parliamentary committee on budget and finance, said he escaped to the UK after he had been set up by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono.

He joins a long list of Zimbabwean businessmen who have fled the country ince 2003 to escape prosecution for allegedly violating the country’s exchange regulations. – ZimOnline

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