December 30, 2007 / 9:05 AM / 11 years ago

Zimbabwe MP flees to UK over currency probe

HARARE (Reuters) - A legislator in Zimbabwe’s ruling party has fled to Britain, fearing arrest in a police probe of foreign currency payments he made last month, official media reported on Sunday.

The state-owned Sunday Mail quoted unnamed sources as saying police wanted to interview David Butau, the ZANU-PF member of parliament for a northern constituency, about a 537,000 pound payment made for tractors from an offshore account in the Channel Islands.

Butau was unavailable for comment, but the Sunday Mail quoted him, speaking from Britain, as denying any wrongdoing and accusing Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono of instigating the police investigation against him.

“He (Gono) had the state machinery at his disposal and I had to flee the country. But I can assure you that when authorities get the documents absolving me, I will definitely come back,” he told the paper.

Police say they have been trying to interview Butau for the past two weeks.

Chief police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena told Reuters Butau was still on the police wanted list but would not confirm that he had left the country.

“We have not had any luck with David Butau because he has not reported to any police station in the country. We are still working to establish his whereabouts,” Bvudzijena said.

Butau chairs a budget and finance parliamentary committee that has had a shaky relationship with Gono. The committee has previously questioned Gono’s monetary policies.

Zimbabwe has battled severe foreign currency shortages since 2000, resulting in a thriving currency black market. In 2005 several bank executives fled the country when Gono cracked down on banks accused of illegally trading foreign currency.

Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe, Editing by Tim Pearce

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