ZIMBABWE – Standard Charted Zimbabwe Bank will with effect from August 31 2015 cease to process all United States Dollar cross border transactions after the banks’s vendor in New York, United States, changed its service terms in a move that is believed to be part of sanctions aimed at hitting all ZANU PF linked businesses and persons.
The country is specified by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control. ZimDaily.com is reliably informed that the move will close all accounts linked to high risk and politically exposed clients.
An internal memo released by StanChart Zimbabwe states that the bank will not facilitate US Dollar cross border payments including but not limited to outward telegraphic transfers, letters or credit and cheque transactions. The move will however not affect any transactions in any other major currencies like the British pound, Euro or South African rand.
StanChart was the first bank to open operations in Zimbabwe in the pre-independence era. The bank is said to have already started a process of categorizing and classifying account holders into different categories with those with political links now falling under high risk.
The move will also affect account holders with offshore loans committed at the bank. The internal memo from the bank says: “We regret to advise that we will not be able to facilitate the future settlement of this loan. In this regard, the notice we have given you is meant to allow you to make the necessary amendments to the loan arrangements so that you are not in default of both the loans and the Exchange Control requirements.”
Despite the looming changes, RBZ Exchange Control approval remains valid and is transferrable to any bank. StanChart head of corporate affairs Lillian Hapanyengwi confirmed the new plan last Friday said the changes were part of international policy and compliance with international regulatory environment.
“A small number of Standard Chartered Zimbabwe customers may from September experience difficulties in making US dollar cross border payments as a result of restrictions imposed by our US Correspondent, Standard Chartered Bank’s New York branch, with whom we will work to minimize customer impact.
“Clearly, we are concerned about customer impact and have sought to minimize this. WE are communicating actively with impacted clients and will work with them to minimize the disruption of their business wherever possible,” Hapanyengwi.
Reports however indicate that clients were communicated to verbally and no attempt was made to officially inform them of the impending gnashing. The move by the bank will also affect those who use international visa cards, stop orders on foreign accounts.