Zimbabwe issues Econet warrant over alleged money laundering

Zimbabwe issues Econet warrant over alleged money laundering

Zimbabwean police have issued the country’s leading operator Econet Wireless with a search warrant over suspected involvement in money laundering.

Reuters reports that Econet stands accused of creating fictitious mobile money and converting it to cash to facilitate purchasing foreign currency on the black market and taking the money out of Zimbabwe.

The warrant demands that Econet surrender a list of subscribers along with financial statements and records of transactions made via its EcoCash mobile money service between 2nd January and 30th June 2020 “for the purpose of investigating or detecting a case of money laundering.”

Zimbabwe’s central bank has previously accused Econet of similar misconduct, with the operator claiming its innocence. On this occasion the operator provided no official comment, but an official who remained anonymous on the grounds that he was not authorised to speak to the media claimed that Econet would launch a legal challenge against the warrant.

Last month, Zimbabwe temporarily suspended a number of financial transactions relating to mobile money in a bid to root out what the government termed “malpractices, criminality and economic sabotage perpetrated by the wolves in sheep skins amongst our population.” It also suspended trade on the country’s stock exchange, which has spooked investors.