RBZ staffers in US$30 000 kickback scam

gono_moneyHARARE Two Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) executives forced a Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed company to buy them US$31 400 worth of vehicles at the height of cash shortages last year in exchange for unlimited access to the local currency, according to an audit report shown to ZimOnline last week. (Pictured: Gideon Gono His officers accused of demanding kickbac

The report dated June 16, 2009 that was prepared by KPMG for the board of AICO Africa a privatised state company formally called COTTCO said the company bought two Toyota vehicles for the RBZ officials in exchange for easy access to banknotes that were in severe short supply last year.

In July 2008 two motor vehicles (Toyota Hilux models), valued at US$15 700 each, were acquired for two RBZ officials in exchange for Zim dollars cash, the report by KPMG said without naming the RBZ officials.

The audit report, which is understood to have been swept under the carpet by authorities at AICO, says the deal was not sanctioned by the companys board but had the blessings of the groups chief executive officer, Happymore Mapara.

There was no agreement in place in respect of these transactions and no other documentation could be provided (to auditors). The transactions were, however, authorised by the group CEO, the report said.

Mapara was not immediately available for comment on the matter while efforts to get a comment from the RBZ failed.

The audit report said various other deals entered into between the RBZ officials and Mapara last year the first one valued at US$18.3 million and the second valued at US$25.5 million, which all benefited AICO at the expense of the public were coined up by the RBZ officials.

RBZ workers were among the biggest beneficiaries of Zimbabwes decade-long financial crisis as kleptocracy among the central banks upper ranks reached alarming levels, with officials taking advantage of the then rampant money printing to line their pockets.

Several of them have since been hauled before the courts after their actions were later exposed.

Economists and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) blame RBZ Governor Gideon Gono who became the country’s chief banker in December 2003 for compounding Zimbabwes economic crisis through quasi-fiscal activities that saw the central bank pump trillions of dollars into financing President Robert Mugabes populist projects and political programmes.

They say printing money was fuelling inflation, which at more than 231 million percent was the highest in the world and long queues for scarce banknotes became a routine feature at banks.

Hyperinflation and the shortage of banknotes were the most visible signs of a severe economic crisis blamed on Mugabe’s policies and seen in shortages of food and every essential commodity.

New Finance Minister Tendai Biti has said the RBZ has been operating outside the law and promised to reform its operations to restore credibility to the central bank.

Post published in: Economy

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