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Court throws out bid to recover frozen, unexplained US$300 000

AN account holder’s bid to recover US$300 000 locked up in his bank as part of investigations into a suspected case of money laundering has failed after his request was thrown out by the High Court in Harare.

Meshack Mudyariwa holds an account with NMB Bank and on March 24 last year, US$300 000 was deposited into his account. However, the transfer was not supported by any payment record in the T24 banking system, raising the question of the legitimacy of the funds.

NMB suspected the money could be proceeds of money laundering and rapidly moved to freeze the account pending investigations. This was more so because the amount did not reflect, as was expected in the VISA prefunded credit card suspense account within the T24 core banking system.

The bank expected Mudyariwa’s card to have shown a T24 record displaying the origin of the funds.

The move to block Mudyariwa from accessing the funds sparked a legal dispute, resulting in him approaching the High Court challenging the bank’s decision to freeze his account.

However, Justice Jacob Manzunzu did not find merit in Mudyariwa’s application and instead found NMB Bank’s suspicion reasonable, especially in an era of rampant corruption.

The judge also noted that the bank did not only suspend the account, but invited Mudyariwa to explain and assist the bank with missing information.

It would be self defeating if the bank made efforts to comply with the law but took no action to freeze the account, he said.

Justice Manzunzu said if NMB had not done that, then Mudyariwa could withdraw all the money regardless of the outcome of the investigations.

The matter was reported to the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the police.

Investigations are underway.

When NMB Bank invited Mudyariwa to explain the source of funds, he said he obtained the money as a loan from two South African companies, which happened to be originators of the funds.

During their several engagements with NMB Bank officials, Mudyariwa gave the bank a document which he said was an agreement between him and the two companies but the originator of the funds was kept secret.

The director of the two SA companies, identified as Gwekwerere, could not reveal the identity of the originator of funds, saying the funders would be acting contrary to their own domestic law which prohibits such funding in Zimbabwe.

Through his legal counsel, Mudyariwa also argued that NMB Bank was holding his money for no cause, insisting that the money deposited into his account was legitimate.

But NMB Bank assumed the transaction was suspicious.

Further, the bank argued that it has a statutory obligation to suspend Mudyariwa’s account while investigations of the origins of the funds were carried out.

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