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Harare man locked out of NMB account over suspicious US$300,000 deposit

A Harare man who failed to give a comprehensive explanation regards the source of a US$300,000 deposit in his NMB Bank will not be able to access the funds until an investigation is complete, a court ruled last week.

NMB Bank last year, in line with the provisions of the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime (Chapter 9:24), which aims to suppress the abuse of the financial system, froze the account of one Meshack Mudyariwa’s after he failed to explain the source of a US$300,000 deposit.

The Financial Intelligence Unit of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the police are carrying out investigations amid allegations over money laundering.

Mudyariwa recently approached the High Court, challenging the decision by NMB Bank Limited to freeze his account but his efforts have so far hit a brick wall.

High Court judge, Justice Jacob Manzunzu, last week ruled the money should remain frozen because Mudyariwa has not given reasonable grounds for its release.

“It will be self-defeating for the respondent, while making efforts to comply with the law, to take no action to freeze the account. What that would practically mean is that the applicant would withdraw all the money, irrespective of the outcome of the investigations,” said the judge.

“The matter has been reported to the Intelligence Unit and the police and is said to be under investigation. It will be inappropriate at this stage to order respondent to unfreeze the account.

“In any event, while the applicant has shown a clear right over the account, and the possible injury he will suffer, he has not shown absence of an alternative remedy. An alternative remedy lay with the applicant for the review of the decision taken by the respondent.

“Such a remedy gives him similar protection. In any event, had the applicant assisted with the identity of the originator of funds as required by the Act, that will stand as an alternative remedy.”

Mudyariwa said that the money was from a loan acquired with two unidentified South African companies.

In his application Mudyariwa insisted that NMB Bank was holding his money without due cause.

However, the judge said it was mandatory for the bank to have information about the originator of the funds.

“I think the suspicion was reasonable, especially in this era of rampant corruption,” he said, before ordering that Mudyariwa’s account remain frozen as investigations continue.