A Harare man has had some US$300 000 frozen in a local bank after he failed to reveal the identity of the originator of funds as required under the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act (Chapter 9:24).
The law empowers authorities to identify, freeze, seize and eventually confiscate proceeds of all serious crimes and terrorist acts.
Meshack Mudyariwa approached the High Court seeking to have NMB bank unfreeze the money that was deposited into his account in March last year.
Mudyariwa failed to explain the source of the funds prompting NMB to freeze his account in line with the law after realising that it could have been laundered.
The matter has since been reported to the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the police.
In his application at the High Court, Mudyariwa insisted that NMB Bank was holding his money for no reason, saying the money was legitimate.
However, High Court judge, Justice Jacob Manzunzu, last week ruled the money should remain frozen, saying Mudyariwa had failed to reveal its source. Said the judge:
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.
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 the 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 the 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.