Ecocash, a subsidiary of ZSE-listed Cassava Smartech, said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) ignored warnings about suspicious EcoCash agents for months.
In a letter that was attached to the papers submitted to the High Court seeking the reversal of the RBZ directive to freeze accounts of all EcoCash agents that process transactions above ZW$100 000 per month, EcoCash CEO, Natalie Jabangwe revealed that the central bank was lethargic in its response.
In the letter, dated 24 April 2020 and written to the Financial Intelligence Unit, Jabangwe said:
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We note that, as shown in Table 2 below, since the implementation of the new limits we submitted 17 STRs* and only five have been responded to with requests for additional information, the rest (12) we have not heard anything from you with some getting to a month old since submission.
Prior to implementation of the new limits, since the beginning of the year, we submitted 68 STRs and got 22 responses with 1 case being referred to the police. In 2019 we submitted 100 and got 50 responses.
Whilst we are fully aware of our obligation to detect and report and we will continue to do so, the low response rate can be disheartening and cause for concern to us especially when you then keep accusing us of not detecting and reporting cases of abuse of the platform.
*STR: Suspicious Transaction Report
In the same letter, Jabangwe revealed that even police detectives were shocked. She wrote:
On 15th September last year, we were invited for a meeting at Criminal Investigations Department Headquarters (CID HQ) to discuss ways of ensuring that channel partners who were abusing the EcoCash platform were brought to book.
We advised them the process that we follow in terms of reporting STRs to your office and we gave them statistics of STRs that we had submitted to your offices.
They were impressed with the number of STRs we had submitted but expressed shock at the small number of Compliance Orders that they had received from your office.