THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe through its Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has engaged law enforcement agents to prosecute illegal forex traders posting foreign currency exchange rates on social media platforms.

This comes as the exchange rate continues to spiral against the local dollar, which now trades at around 1:70 and above against the UD$1 on the parallel market, at a time when the official fixed exchange rate remains at 1:25. The trend has worsoned pricing distortion and further weakened consumer spending while dampening business sentiment.

Authorities say the wild exchange rate has nothing to do with economic fundamentals and is being driven by speculative tendencies.

In a notice Tuesday, the FIU said it has been monitoring social media platforms where foreign currency dealers have been advertising and promoting their illegal trade.

“The FIU is aware of whatsApp groups that have mushroomed in the country for the specific purpose of promoting and facilitating illegal foreign currency trade.

“Identified persons will be investigated and prosecuted for illegally trading in or advertising illegal trading in foreign currency,” said the FIU. 

Together with police, banks, mobile money or mobile phone service providers and relevant regulatory agencies, the FIU has embarked on an exercise to identify and take action against individuals who create, advertise on or participate (actively or passively) in WhatsApp groups or other platforms for illegal forex trading. 

It said mobile phone numbers used to join or advertise on the illegal groups will be shared with mobile phone operators and the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) for barring. Other mobile phone numbers registered in the names of such persons will also be identified and barred. 

“Any mobile wallets registered in the names of such persons will be frozen and the persons barred from accessing mobile money service with any operator,” said the Apex bank unit.

Furthermore, the FIU said bank accounts owned by a person so identified will be frozen and the person would be blacklisted and barred from accessing banking services with any bank. 

Members of the public are, therefore, encouraged to report to the FIU any person, mobile phone number or bank account that continue to engage or to be used to advertise illegal foreign currency activities, it said.