HARARE: The government has gazetted a law to curb illegal cash and foreign currency trading with offenders to face a mandatory 10-year jail term, as their cash is forfeited to the State, while their bank accounts are frozen.

The new measures were announced in Parliament yesterday by Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, saying the stringent regulations were gazetted under the Exchange Control Amendment Regulations.

 He also said the government would, with immediate effect, re-introduce price controls on basic commodities to restore sanity in the business sector.

“In order to deal with the scourge of people buying and selling cash, government has gazetted Exchange Control Regulations enacted by the President, and section 2 will empower the police to arrest anyone trading in currency without a licence and allow the police to seize the cash,” Chinamasa said.

“This seized currency will be deposited at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) for exhibit pending prosecution, and the regulations will also provide for freezing of funds of corresponding value in financial institutions, where such proceeds are suspected cases of dealing in currency.

“Penalties are fines not exceeding the value of the currency and sentences not exceeding 10 years, and courts can impose fines of three times the value of currency. There will be amendments to the Bank Use Promotions Act to strengthen the powers of the RBZ and it will come before Parliament in a few weeks. The Suppression of Money Laundering Act will also be amended,” he said.

Chinamasa denied reports that the country was experiencing fuel shortages.