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Impala’s Zimbabwe Unit Denies Breaking Law as Exports Halted

Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. denied breaking the law after banks in Zimbabwe were ordered to stop processing exports for the second-largest producer of the metal until it shifts foreign accounts onshore.

The May 23 central bank directive suspending banking services for the company over its use of offshore accounts is “unfortunate,” Johannesburg-based Impala said today in a statement. It prevents banks from facilitating international transactions for Zimplats.

The restrictions add pressure to Impala’s operations in Zimbabwe, where the government is also requiring it to sell a controlling stake to locals. Zimplats accounted for 17 percent of Impala’s earnings excluding one-time items in fiscal 2011.

The existence and operation of Zimplats’ offshore bank accounts is contained in the terms of an agreement between the company and the government, Zimplats said.

Zimplats puts 75 percent of its total spending through the Zimbabwean banking system, with the balance relating mainly to the servicing of offshore loans “which were raised with the knowledge, support and approval” of the central bank, it said.

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