Interpol is suspecting the government of Zimbabwe of money laundering; $2 million through a Hungarian account.
A local paper, ZimLive, has published a letter sent by Interpol’s Budapest office to the Harare office in April. To G7, however, Interpol responded that they are not allowed to comment on specific cases.
According to the article, the government of Zimbabwe has taken advantage of the coronavirus pandemic and bought tests and protective gear on a higher price, from companies, which can be linked to the President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa. Two of the companies that the government made a contract with are not registered to the local public authority, so getting government orders is illegal according to their laws.
One of the companies is registered in Switzerland, founded by an Albanese man in 2017. The 51-year-old man worked for several years as a butcherer in Italy previously and had had suspicious cases, as seen in the Interpol letter.
The man received Italian citizenship and opened two bank accounts for his Swiss company in a Hungarian bank, Magnet Bank. The company opened a Hungarian subsidiary in March, and the Financial and Economic Ministry of Zimbabwe transferred 2 million dollars to the Hungarian bank account two weeks later.
Magnet Bank found the transfer suspicious, as there was no money flow on the account, so they requested documents from the Italian man about the source of the money. The man showed an alleged contract between his Swiss company and a state company in Zimbabwe; however, the agreement lacked a stamp and signature from the Zimbabwe company.
According to the leaked Interpol letter, they were alerted by the Hungarian National Tax and Customs Administration, however, when asked, NTCA said they could not reveal any details about ongoing cases.
Magnet Bank has previously been penalised for violating the law against money laundering. The Hungarian National Bank fined Magnet Bank for 19 million forints (over $62,000) for insufficiency in 2014. Then in 2018 again, for 47 million forints ($153,600) for credit deficiencies in credit risk management, data provision, IT and the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing.