|Measures to combat economic crime in Zimbabwe|
The most notable forms of economic crimes manifest themselves in money laundering, fraud, corruption, insider trading in the stock/financial markets, externalization of foreign currency and embezzlement of funds both in the private and public sector.
Serious economic crimes in Zimbabwe
- Money Laundering
- Externalisation of Foreign Currency
- Insider Trading in Stock and Financial Markets
- Tax Evasion
The modus operandi for economic crimes mentioned above is as follows
- Fraud Cheque Fraud, Insurance Fraud and Master Card Fraud.
- Money Laundering Money stolen is taken to asset management firms and financial institutions where it is deposited to earn interest or alternatively the money is used to buy assets.
- Corruption Public officers misuse their offices by accepting rewards and corruptly doing some undue favours, also some violate the Tender Board procedures by offering tenders to their friends or relatives.
- Externalisation of Foreign Currency Foreign currency is telegraphically transferred to offshore accounts. Some buy assets abroad with the foreign currency they acquire in Zimbabwe.
- Insider Trading In the Financial Markets Money market shares are sold privately without public knowledge.
- Tax Evasion Some companies avoid paying tax to the government or they understate their business transactions.
Methods for investigating, prosecution and trial of economic crimes
In Zimbabwe, the Police are constitutionally mandated to investigate all criminal matters and bring the cases before the courts for prosecution. When investigating economic crimes, they involve other specialised units, that is, officers from the Central Bank Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, National Economic Conduct Inspectorate, Forensic Scientists and investigators from Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and the Comptroller and Auditor General.
Prosecutors are qualified law officers from the Attorney General’s Office who have undergone specialised training programmes in prosecuting economic crimes. The Police work hand in glove with financial institutions when investigating economic crimes because proceeds from these crimes are usually deposited within these financial houses and also they are directly or indirectly involved (In cases of externalization of foreign currency, the banks are used to transfer the externalised funds telegraphically). Economic crimes trials take place in the following courts depending on the magnitude or value of the amounts involved.
- Magistrate’s Court
- Provincial Court
- Regional Court
- High Court
Magistrates and Judges who preside over these economic crimes receive specialised training.
Measures for Ensuring the Effectiveness of Investigative Agencies
The Police recruit informers who provide them with information of a criminal nature. They are given an allowance depending on the nature of information supplied. The Police also plant suggestion boxes in places where the public have access. Information is written and placed in these suggestion boxes. They also have hotlines, which are telephone lines which the public can use to contact the Police and supply information. The Police in Zimbabwe also practice community policing. In this scenario, the Police and the community are involved in policing and detecting crime. Criminals also supply information on other criminals. Syndicates are usually aware of what other groups are doing and if approached, they are sometimes helpful in supplying valuable information in order to “fix” their criminal counterparts.
Effective Utilisation of Traditional Investigative Methods
Although the police have modern investigative methods, they still practice their traditional investigative methods. In all their investigations, they use their Criminal Records Office. This Office keeps the data of all criminal records, that is, modus operandi of how the crime was committed, who committed the crime, time and place of occurrence and how the case was finalized. Officers are also trained on the job by experienced fellow officers.
Measures for Ensuring Effective Investigation of Banks
The Zimbabwe Republic Police, when investigating banks, usually involve officers from the Central Bank (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe), which is the controller of all financial institutions. The Central bank has an Investigation Department. This Department is composed of mainly retired Police officers who would have undergone specialised courses in the operations of banks. We also have informers inside banks. These are normally employees of the bank, so they are able to provide detailed information inside the bank.
Utilisation of New Investigative Methods
Police officers are attached to banks for three months learning banking systems. In Zimbabwe, all Police officers are sent for computer training and this helps when investigating these economic crimes since information is stored on computers and computer discs. The Police also conduct electronic surveillance using camcorders on all known criminals. They get extracts of all telephone print-outs to monitor the criminals’ associates and communications. The police have officers from the Criminal Intelligence Unit who do undercover operations in hotels and nightclubs where criminals spend their proceeds of crime. In Zimbabwe, only the President is immune from prosecution, however, where an accused person is a competent witness in a case in which he will testify against his accomplices, the Attorney General’s Office and the Investigating Officer may forego prosecuting such a witness provided that he/she does not turn a hostile witness.
Protection of Witnesses In Zimbabwe
Witnesses are protected both at the investigative and the trial stage. In cases where the witnesses use transport to visit the Investigator and the court, the government pays for both transport and food for the witness. The witnesses are also informed of their right to give evidence in court and are also encouraged to report any interference from the accused to the Police.
Legal framework for controlling economic crimes
There are a number of regulations in place to control economic criminal activities. These are:
- Prevention of Corruption Act, Chapter 9:16
- Serious Offences Act, Chapter 9:17
- Exchange Control Act, Chapter 22:05
- Insurance Act, Chapter 24:07
- Banking Act, Chapter 24:01
- Reserve Bank Act, Chapter 22:15
- Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, Chapter 9:07
- Postal and Telecommunications Services Act, Chapter 12:02
- Sales Tax Act, Chapter 23:08
- Audit and Exchequer Act, Chapter 22:03
- Companies Act, Chapter 24:03
- Public Accountants and Auditors Act, Chapter 27:03
- Building Societies Act, Chapter 24:02
- Bank Use Promotion and Suppression of Money Laundering Act, Chapter 24:24
These Acts are very effective and complimented by the common law offences of Fraud, Forgery and Theft by False Pretences. Criminals also try to circumvent the provisions of the Acts in order to enhance their criminal activities. To complement these activities, the Police have put in place a number of strategies to fight economic crimes.Zimbabwe is also a member of the Eastern and Southern African Anti-Money Laundering Group of countries (ESAAMLG) (Reference the Protocol against Corruption). The Group was established to take effective measures against money laundering
Punishments and Sanctions
Punishments for criminals involved in economic crimes are imposed by the presiding magistrate or judge. The convicted person can either pay a fine or be incarcerated in prison depending on the gravity of the case. However, in most cases where the accused fails to pay back what he or she has stolen, the alternative is imprisonment. Suspended sentences can also be imposed.
Sucpicious transactions reporting system
In Zimbabwe, most banks have security departments. The security departments receive all reports of criminal activities and the department keeps the Police telephone numbers and they, in turn, contact the Police.
Co-Operation by Banks and Non-Bank Financial Institutions
The Police in Zimbabwe enjoy very supportive co-operation from banks and financial institutions when carrying out investigations
Classification of proceeds and assets derived from crimes, forfeiture, freezing systems and collection of the value of proceeds
The Bank Use Promotion and Suppression of Money Laundering Act, Chapter 24:24, empowers Police to recover proceeds of crime in whatever form (cash or assets). When freezing money, the Police apply for a subpoena through the courts and the court issues the subpoena instructing the bank or finance house to freeze the money involved.
The assets are kept by the Police until the case is finalised by the courts. The courts usually make a determination on how to dispose of the assets or money recovered. Assets out-flowed to foreign countries are recovered under the terms of the Mutual Assistance Act.