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ZB Financial Holdings, IDC removed from US OFAC list

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The United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) removed ZB Financial Holdings, its subsidiaries, the Industrial Development Corporation along with other individuals and entities from the list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons that were designated under the Zimbabwe-related sanctions programme.

According to an update from OFAC, ZB Holdings and its banking subsidiaries, IDC, Chemplex Corporation, Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company, three farms (Gowrie, Longwood and Mlembwe) and individuals Aeneas Chigwedere, Jocelyn Mauchaza-Chiwenga, Georgina Nkomo (John Nkomo’s widow), Abina Chapfika, Ever Chombo, Grace Charamba and the late Sabina Mugabe and Charles Utete.

The removal from the list will come as a relief to ZB and IDC who have in the past noted that the embargo placed on the companies had severely undermined their operations. The sanctions had also hampered the companies efforts to attract investors.

Analysts also say the removal also provides a boost to the country’s re-engagement programme with international financial institutions ahead of side-meetings at the annual International Monetary Fund/World Bank conference.

ZB has often had its capitalisation plans derailed with investors pulling out of transactions because of the prohibitions while the bank has also failed to get international credit lines.

In March, ZB management said the group had been lobbying hard to get the sanctions removed.

For IDC, funds have in the past been intercepted while the group has also failed to close numerous investment deals.

Early this year, Barclays Bank agreed to shell out nearly $2.5 million to OFAC in order to settle claims related to the violation of U.S. sanctions by processing transactions for government-backed entities in Zimbabwe.

According to the Treasury, Barclays processed 159 transactions totaling around $3.4 million from July 2008 to September 2013 to or through financial institutions in the U.S., including the company’s New York branch, for corporate customers of Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe, which were majority-owned by people that are on U.S. sanctions lists.

The US imposed sanctions on the country in the early 2 000s mostly targeted at Zimbabwean politicians Washington accused of undermining democracy and human rights, and involved asset seizures and travel bans. Among those targeted were President Robert Mugabe and First Lady Grace.

Several Zimbabwean companies have had their export receipts, amounting to millions of dollars, seized over the years by the office owing to the sanctions.

Agribank and the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe were removed from the list in February, giving room for US companies.

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