Fin24

Zimbabwe lifts Zimplats banking freeze

2012-05-31 07:58

Harare - Zimbabwe's central bank lifted Wednesday a ban on the local unit of South Africa's Impala Platinum Holdings [JSE:IMP] using local banking services over accusations it used offshore accounts, a company official said.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) imposed the ban on Zimplats last week saying the company continued to put money in offshore accounts.

Zimplats is the local unit of the world's second-largest platinum producer Impala Platinum.

"We confirm that the RBZ has issued a directive permitting Zimplats to access local banking services," Zimplats spokesperson Busi Chindove said in an email responding to AFP questions.

Zimbabwe directed in March that foreign banks and mining companies should keep their funds in local accounts instead of offshore.

"We are pleased that the RBZ has issued a directive to normalise our access to local banking services and to allow us to export," said Chindove, adding that firm "did not have significant funds offshore" as it is funding expansion projects at its plant.

The government earlier this year threatened to take Zimplats over after it failed to submit a plan to distribute 51% of its shares to locals under the country's indigenisation laws.

The company later struck a deal with the government offering to give 10% shares to its workers, another 10% to a community trust near its mine and 31% to the government's Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Fund.

Under the controversial local ownership law championed by President Robert Mugabe, the government must pay for the shares it receives - something the cash-strapped treasury has not budgeted for this year.