Zimbabwe Accuses Biggest Phone Company of Money Laundering

(Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwe’s police have accused Econet Wireless Ltd., the country’s dominant mobile phone company, of money laundering, demanded a list of its subscribers and issued a search warrant against it.

The move escalates a clash between the government and company whose money transfer service facilitates the bulk of transactions in the southern African country. The government says its activities are contributing to the rapid depreciation of the national currency.

In an order against the company, the police accused the company of creating fictitious mobile money, converting it to cash and then buying foreign currency on the black market before sending it out the country.

On June 26 the country banned most of those transactions and has now said it plans to force Econet’s Ecocash unit to use a government-run money-transfer platform. While Econet competes with state-owned companies, its market share dwarves theirs.

Calls to Econet’s spokesman, Fungai Mandiveyi, weren’t answered.

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