By Nokunceda Magagula
Dr Phil Mnisi, the Governor of the Central Bank of Eswatini (CBE), has issued a warning in response to the increasing instances of emaSwati falling victim to scams that result in the loss of their hard-earned money.
During the Annual Integrated Report of 2022/2023, a concerned audience member posed a critical question about what measures the CBE is taking to protect emaSwati from falling prey to these scams.
These scams typically involve individuals investing in companies that promise substantial profits but fail to deliver on these claims.
Dr Mnisi emphasized the significance of this issue, acknowledging that numerous emaSwati have already suffered substantial losses due to such scams. As an example, he cited the case of QZ Asset company, which is one among several companies responsible for causing financial harm to emaSwati.
Moreover, Dr Mnisi issued a stern caution to emaSwati against engaging with individuals or entities that promise investment returns of 50 per cent or even 100 per cent. Such high returns should serve as a red flag, prompting emaSwati to conduct thorough research on any company before investing their money.
It’s important to note that returns on investments in banks typically do not exceed 10 per cent, making claims of much higher returns suspicious.
Dr Mnisi revealed that the CBE has forged a partnership with the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) to raise consumer awareness regarding these fraudulent schemes. They are also committed to educating banks and the public on responsible investment practices.
Notably, QZ Assets operated in Eswatini without the necessary registration or licensing from either the Central Bank or the FSRA. This unregistered entity lured investors with promises of exorbitant returns, reaching as high as 400 per cent.
Investors deposited their money into the bank accounts of individuals acting as promoters for QZ Asset Management. These promoters would then transfer some of the funds to undisclosed destinations, likely overseas.
The Central Bank has firmly asserted that the activities of QZ Asset Management were in direct violation of financial regulations, including the Financial Institutions Act and the FSRA Act. In response, the Central Bank issued an official notice to the individuals involved, demanding that they cease their activities.
Unfortunately, it appears that they did not comply with this directive. The Central Bank has expressed grave concerns over the potential loss of funds for unsuspecting members of the public. Funds were being channelled out of the country to undisclosed destinations, further complicating efforts to recover these assets.
At present, investigations into this matter are ongoing, with the FSRA and the Central Bank collaborating closely to address this issue and prevent future occurrences.
EmaSwati are strongly urged to exercise vigilance and conduct thorough due diligence before committing their hard-earned money to any investment opportunity. The Central Bank remains committed to safeguarding the financial well-being of the people of Eswatini.