Law must take its course on SME Bank directors

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Staff Reporters

Windhoek-The presidency issued a statement yesterday afternoon shooting down the media insinuation that President Hage Geingob “exonerated” Frans Kapofi and George Simataa in their roles as former chairpersons of the SME Bank. “Such reports are false and don not reflect the true letter and spirit of the statement the President made at the media conference,” the press secretary Albertus Aochamub said in the statement yesterday.

Much to the contrary President Geingob “accepts that the directors of SME Bank have fiduciary
responsibility over the affairs of the bank and the laws of the land prescribe appropriate sanctions where breach of the relevant laws is prove.”

The statement further said that the Bank of Namibia is in charge of the process going forward and “can advise next steps in the event of any proven wrongdoings in terms of alleged corporate governance breaches just like they have done with regards to the core banking process breaches and the attempt at recovery of the funds invested outside Namibia.” The High Court of Namibia ordered a provisional liquidation of the poorly administered SME Bank, after the bank made poor investments of more than N$200 million with dubious ‘investment’ entities in South Africa.

According to the Bank of Namibia, which approached the courts, the efforts to retrieve the money from South Africa proved futile, after having roped in the South African National Prosecuting Agency and the Namibian police.
It was also found that people involved in the missing millions, especially the former SME Bank executives and South African executives at the investment firms where money was invested, initially lied about the nature of investments. True information only came to the fore after the executives were subpoenaed to make statements by the NPA.

The bank was also found to have floundered various Namibian banking laws that guide commercial institutions on how to safeguard and invest depositors’ money.

The Namibian government owned 65 percent shares in the bank, with the 35 perecent belonging to the Zimbabwean Metrobank, and 5 percent to Enock Kamushinda, a Zimbabwean national.

Nevertheless, the statement also said that President Geingob emphasized the fact that all Namibians are innocent until proven guilty in terms of the Namibian constitution. “To that end, Kapofi and Simataa cannot be found guilty by the media or any stakeholder group without a proper due process being followed in terms of the laws of the land and a guilty verdict reached.”

In the meantime the presidency says it would not interfere with the judiciary processes of the country, while the SME bank matter is still in court, “as the President respects the constitutional provisions of the separation of powers between the various branches of the State”.

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