Offshore accounts: Banks defy RBZ

THE Reserve Bank has turned down applications by Standard Chartered Bank and Barclays Bank to keep over 25 percent of their Nostro account balances offshore as it emerged yesterday that some banks had partially complied with the directive to transfer 75 percent of their funds to onshore accounts.

DR Gono
DR Gono

RBZ Governor Dr Gideon Gono yesterday said the central bank will descend heavily on the truant banks. Statistics show that Nostro balances for 22 banks stood at US$312, 6 million as of yesterday, instead of US$230 million had all the banks heeded the RBZ directive. At least US$82 million was outstanding as of yesterday.

“The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe shall be meeting with banks that have not complied with a view to taking stern measures to ensure compliance,” Dr Gono said last night. Figures showed that as of yesterday, Standard Chartered had US$109, 3 million as its Nostro balance, instead of keeping US$28,4 million as per the new requirements. The variance, therefore, stood at US$81 million.

The bank had its request for a dispensation to keep funds in excess of the 25 percent requirement turned down by the central bank.

Standard Chartered said it needed to keep the funds offshore to facilitate disbursements to clients.

Barclays had a Nostro balance of US$37,4 million as of yesterday, but had not complied. It had a variance of $16,4 million.

The bank had also applied to keep the funds offshore, saying they were for loan facilities. Its request for a reprieve was also thrown out.

“Banks with large amounts in Nostro balances have submitted applications for dispensations to keep funds offshore to meet future obligations.

“In light of these dispensations, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has declined or approved some of the applications,” said Dr Gono.

Stanbic Bank was given a reprieve as the bulk of its Nostro account funds were earmarked to pay a USS$50 million Zesa debt on April 1 while US$20 million was committed towards a Youth Fund to be launched next week.

An additional US$10 million had been set aside for a client.

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