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Econet and Cassava offices searched by police to ‘retrieve evidence of money laundering’

Econet Connected Car Econet sign, woman on phone

Former Higher Education (before that Information Minister), Jonathan Moyo has just posted a copy of a search and seizure warrant purportedly issued by a Magistrate’s Court to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) against Econet Wireless.

The former minster said the police are the Econet and Cassava offices right now (around 9PM on Friday 17 July 2020) executing the warrant. He tweeted this with the pictures:

@PoliceZimbabwe are right now executing a search & seizure warrant at Masasa offices of @econetzimbabwe & at Cassava Zim offices on Borrowdale Rd in Harare; to get details of every registered @EcoCashZW account from 2 January 2020 to now. A Magistrate granted the warrant!

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To fix #StriveMasiyiwa, the regime is using a defective warrant: the accused is @EcoCashZW, the data sought is for people who are not accused persons. Even worse, the search & seizure is unconstitutional; as it violates the right to privacy. Zimbabwe now closed for business!

Here’s the text of the affidavit of the oath that the detective of the Criminal Investigation Department of the ZRP made before the court seeking the warrant:

CID Asset Forfeiture Unit FR 67/2020 Statement “
AFFIDAVIT
I, Mkhululi Nyoni NR 29-152573 D 58, do hereby make oath and swear that:

I am a Detective Inspector and Officer In Charge CID Asset Forfeiture Unit, Northern Region. I am the Investigating Officer in a case of Money Laundering C/s 8(1) of the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act 9:24. 2. I have reasonable grounds to suspect that Econet Wireless (Pvt) Ltd is involved in Money laundering activities in violation of section 8(1) (a) (b) ARW section 8(6) of the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act (Chapter 9:24). 3. On 9 July 2020, information was received to the effect that during the period extending from 011anuary 2020 to 30 June 2020, ECONET WIRELESS (Pvt) Ltd and as subsidiaries have been fraudulently creating and issuing non-attributable and non-auditable individual subscribers merchants billers and agent which they credited with huge sums of money and distributed to thee runners through their trust accounts. The runners would in turn buy foreign currency from the black before being externalized.

It is against this background that it is suspected that the accused is laundering the proceeds of crime.

I therefore apply for the following:-
a) A list of all subscribers/customers both registered and unregistered in the Econet Wireless (Pvt) Ltd database with full subscriber details for the period 2 January 2020 to 30 June 2020.
b) Summary of transient e-money/airtime credit service posted on the platform through airtime loans for the period 2 January 2020 to 30 June 2020.
c) All financial statements for the period 2 January 2020 to 30 June 2020 showing the entire inflow and outflow monetary transactions. I make the above statement solemnly and conscientiously believing the same to be true.
Signed
MKHULULI NYONI
Signed before me on this day of July 2020 at Harare.
Signed , COMMISSIONER OF OATHS

And now the text of the warrant itself:

WARRANT OF SEARCH AND SEIZURE
Issued In terms of Section 49 (b) and 50(1) (a) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (Chapter 9:07) as read with section 288 of the said Act.
TO THE PEACE OFFICERS AND OTHER OFFICERS OF THE LAW, PROPER TO THE EXECUTION OF CRIMINAL WARRANTS.
WHERE AS, from information taken upon oath before myself. there are reasonable grounds for believing that ECONET WIRELESS (PVT) LIMITED is in possession or control of documents. information or records which are required in order to afford evidence in a criminal docket and that are necessary for the purpose of investigating or detecting a case of Money Laundering as defined in section 8(1)(a) of the money Laundering and proceeds of crime Act chapter 9:24.10 examine the documents and records and make extracts from and copies of all such documents and records.
Section 50 (1) (a) reads: as article referred to in Section forty-nine shall be seized only by virtue of a Warrant issued-(a) By a Magistrate or Justice of Peace if it appears to the Magistrate or Justice from information on oath that there are reasonable grounds for believing that any such article is in the possession or under the control of any person, or upon or in any premises, within his/her area of jurisdiction;
It is therefore directed that ECONET WIRELESS (PTV) LIMITED should within 7 working days provide the following: i) A list of all subscribers/customers both registered and unregistered in the Econet Wireless (Pot) Ltd database with full subscriber details for the period 2 January 2020 to 30 June 2020.
ii) Summary of transient e-money/airtime credit service posted on the platform through airtime loans for the period 2 January 2020 to 30 June 2020.
iii) All financial statements for the period 2 January 2020 to 30 June 2020 showing the entire inflow and outflow monetary transactions.
These are therefore. in the State’s name to command you to proceed to ECONET WIRELESS ZIMBABWE there from immediately obtain and take into your custody the above-mentioned documents. records. or information take them to a police station or other place of safety until the matter is finalized or until you further receive further orders from Court.

EcoCash, the target

For most of this year, the governemnt and the central bank specifically have placed blame for all our economic woes especially the tanking of local currency on EcoCash, the mobile money business founded by Econet and now under Cassava. The central bank governor submitted in court in May that every time there is a transaction delay on EcoCash, some mysterious person would be siphoning money out of the platform to buy forex on the black market.

This is very bad precedent

The fact that a court can issue a warrant against Econet (EcoCash really which is actually an entity on its own) which instructs police to get personal data concerning you and me is worrying. Zimbabwe really is a Banana Republic


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4 thoughts on “Econet and Cassava offices searched by police to ‘retrieve evidence of money laundering’

  1. This is very very bad. The way personal data is now being treated in Zimbabwe is becoming China level dictatorship bad. First was the ZEC harvest which ended up with people’s phone numbers in the hands of Zanu Pf mysteriously.

    Now they are using the police and courts to fight Eco Cash. The new strategy is to blame private companies for the dismal state of the Economy. EcoCash didnt exist in ’08 when the Zim dollar tanked, people used banks to “burn” money; but then any and all logic has been cast out the window. We’re now at the level of accusing demons for economic failure.

    I never personally like EcoCash, its services werent so great but I would never wish to see the entire business destroyed over a misguided witch hunt.

    “People are using knives to kill people, lets persecute all companies that sell knives.”

    1. Exactly. Whether you like EcoCash or not this sets a terrible precedent. In regards to data, I think the government can and will continue to abuse citizen data because a large portion of the citizenry doesn’t care about what happens to their data

  2. In terms of personal data in the untrusted hands of the State, we are in a serious fix! Anyone who posts anything that is politically incorrect on WhatsApp Groups using an Econet number supposing they are safe, better think again as they can be nabbed within hours using the data (whih includes residential addresses) retrieved or rather raided from Econet. The State will no longer need to go to Court to obtain our adrresses as it already has it after obtaining it from Econet. As for NetOne & Telecel in which the Government is the majority shareholder, I shall not ‘speech’ as in Zimbabwe, though one is constitutionally aka theoretically, guaranteed freedom of speech, they are not guaranteed freedom after the speech!

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