FIU sufficiently resourced to fight ZiG saboteurs

FIU director-general, Mr. Oliver Chiperesa
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The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), a division of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), has enhanced its capabilities to combat financial crimes through the recruitment of specialized personnel and the acquisition of advanced technology.

This move aims to address illegal financial activities and support the newly introduced Zimbabwe Gold currency (ZiG).

RBZ Governor, Dr. John Mushayavanhu, recently launched a coordinated effort involving the FIU and other security agencies to crack down on illegal money changers and businesses violating exchange control regulations. This initiative is part of a broader strategy to protect the ZiG currency from economic sabotage.

In response to inquiries from legislators, Finance, Economic Development, and Investment Promotion Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube announced that the FIU would receive additional resources to intensify its operations against illegal currency trading and other financial crimes.

The FIU director-general, Mr. Oliver Chiperesa, confirmed the unit’s readiness to tackle these issues, although he withheld specific details about personnel for security reasons.

“In terms of giving you actual numbers of the people I have in the FIU, it’s something that I would not be comfortable sharing with the market,” Chiperesa explained. “It’s like a country at war or an army at war, then giving the enemy details of how many soldiers and how many weapons it has.”

Chiperesa highlighted that the FIU underwent significant expansion in January 2022, effectively doubling its workforce and diversifying its skill set to include expertise in IT and forensic auditing. This recruitment drive has equipped the FIU with the necessary tools and skills to analyze financial transactions and identify suspicious activities.

“We analyze those transactions to discern trends, patterns, suspicious activities, something that you can’t do manually. So we have various IT tools, analytical tools that we use to analyze such transactions. So at the moment we are adequately resourced,” Chiperesa stated. He also mentioned that the FIU’s strategic plan includes periodic reviews to ensure they remain fully equipped to meet their goals.

The FIU’s operations are primarily office-based, involving the analysis of vast amounts of transaction data obtained from financial institutions. However, the unit also collaborates with other agencies, including the police, to address financial crimes at the district level. These joint efforts have already resulted in the arrest of 220 illegal money changers and the freezing of over 90 bank accounts since the introduction of ZiG.

Chiperesa emphasized the continued support from the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance and Investment Promotion, which have consistently provided the necessary resources for the FIU to fulfill its mandate effectively.

Overall, the FIU’s strengthened capabilities and collaborative efforts signify a robust approach to safeguarding Zimbabwe’s financial system and ensuring the stability of the local currency.