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A German card vendor's ties to Zimbabwe apparently have cost the firm a transit contract in the United Kingdom. Giesecke & Devrient GmbH supplies cards for the Oyster contactless transit card scheme in London under a sub-contract with EDS, a spokesperson for Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, tells CardLine Global. Giesecke earlier this week said it would stop "delivering banknote paper to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe," according to a statement from the company. The Giesecke portion of the Oyster contract ends in August and the mayor, a conservative who assumed office in May, has directed that the deal not be renewed, the spokesperson says. "It only came to our attention very recently that G&D has apparently also provided services to Zimbabwe," the spokesperson says. He declines to say how many Oyster cards the firm has provided. A Giesecke spokesperson on Thursday declined comment about the issue to CardLine Global, saying he had learned about the issue only through press reports and could give no official statement. Critics of Robert Mugabe, who claimed victory in a discredited election in late June, say the bank helps prop up the regime. "Our decision is a reaction to the political tension in Zimbabwe, which is mounting significantly rather than easing as expected, and takes account of the critical evaluation by the international community, German government and general public," Karsten Ottenberg, chairman and CEO of Giesecke & Devrient, says in a statement. London transit riders conduct some 10 million Oyster transactions each day, making the scheme the largest transit-fare collection system in Western Europe (CardLine Global, 23 June).

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