Econet’s EcoCash released a public statement today distancing itself from MMM Global Zimbabwe and any other illegal activities such as Ponzi schemes.
In their public statement, EcoCash reminded us that it is a licensed mobile payment platform that facilitates financial transactions (sending & receiving money, buying prepaid airtime and paying for goods and services) for its clients, within the laws of Zimbabwe.
EcoCash also declared its stance on promoting safe and legal transactions and would not be held liable for any losses arising from the use of its platform to engage in “illegal” activities such as Ponzi schemes.
This public statement effectively distances EcoCash from whatever is happening at MMM Global Zimbabwe and any other illegal activities.
By the day, MMM Global Zimbabwe is starting to show signs of collapsing with members’ “mavros” (its digital currency) being frozen in their accounts since the 9th of August 2016 and expected to be accessible by the 15th of September 2016.
However, one has to wonder whether MMM ever marketed itself using the EcoCash platform.
Why would EcoCash come out and make a public statement if they are as clean as they claim to be?
Maybe they are reacting to something much bigger than what they claim?
The RBZ released an identical statement, warning the public against participating in Ponzi and pyramid schemes, but unlike EcoCash, their statement was in the interest of the public’s welfare.
EcoCash is not warning the public to stop participating in “illegal” activities, its only interest is protecting itself by saying it is not a part of it.
EcoCash seems to view a transaction as a transaction, a fair assumption considering they just provide a platform for you to do it.
But, I do believe unlike the RBZ, EcoCash could actually do something about these “illegal activities” and are conveniently choosing not to.
I also believe EcoCash has and still is turning a blind eye to money laundering and illegal activities in Zimbabwe.
MMM Global has already been accused of money laundering in China, Russia and South Africa.
Banks and financial institutions in those countries made swift moves to shut down any accounts with irregular activity.
It is hard to imagine that EcoCash does not have the necessary facilities or instruments to monitor irregular account patterns.
Surely if an account was transacting a maximum of $200 a month and now moving upwards of $3000 a week should raise some kind of suspicion.
There is the argument that we have moved to a cashless society.
From what I have witnessed most entrepreneurs and businesses have been using EcoCash for their transactions way before the cash crisis and continue to do so, their accounts will adjust in reasonable proportion to their previous activity.
It is the accounts that have a sudden irregular activity that Econet should be concerned with.
Dealing with money laundering is not something new to Zimbabwe,
Standard Chartered Zimbabwe around June of this year froze clients’ accounts due to changes in account transactional patterns.
Acting in accordance with the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act, StanChart requested affected clients to report to their nearest branch with identification to explain the new transaction activity, and until then all cash withdrawals were restricted.
I don’t expect EcoCash to do this, though, they benefit immensely from all illegal and legal transactions that happen in the country.
But in the long term, we need better clarity on its position on money laundering.
Are mobile money platforms not governed by the same Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act of Zimbabwe?
Surely if this is the case its a huge oversight by the relevant authorities as they are giving a free pass to schemes like MMM to extract hard currency from the economy.
It is interesting that so many institutions are coming out and asserting their position against MMM, and also exposing the regulatory weakness of Zimbabwe.
I am no legal expert so correct me if I am wrong.
You can find the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act here.