Windhoek High Court Judge Thomas Masuku yesterday reserved his judgement to April 23 in an urgent application the minority shareholders in the SME Bank filed to rescind an order Deputy Judge President Hosea Angula granted to liquidators DJ Bruni and Ian McLaren.
The disputed order gives the two liquidators powers to pay out deposits and institute legal proceedings in court, locally and internationally, to recover the SME Bank’s lost millions.
Bruni and McLaren approached the High Court on February 2 this year in an ex-parte application to expand their powers to include authorisation to approach any court locally and in South Africa, Zimbabwe and further abroad,
as the liquidators of the SME Bank for the recovery of all immovable or movable properties and funds in bank accounts, which are or were the property of the SME Bank. (An ex-parte application is when an entity approaches the court without having to notify an opposing party about it.)
They were also granted the powers to “institute and proceed to the final determination thereof, the proper and effective winding up of the SME Bank”. Further, the deputy judge president granted them the authority to effect payment of deposits less than N$25,000 to depositors.
The SME Bank (Small and Medium Enterprises Bank) was placed under liquidation by Acting High Court Judge Hannelie Prinsloo last year after the Bank of Namibia requested the High Court for such an order.
The Zimbabwe shareholders who held 35 percent shares in the now defunct bank appealed the liquidation order in the Supreme Court.
Metropolitan Bank of Zimbabwe, which owns 30 percent shares, and World Eagle Properties which owns 5 percent shares, in the SME Bank, is asking the High Court to rescind and set aside the order of Judge Angula.
Yesterday Bruni and McLaren argued the issue is a moot one especially since the appeal of the minority shareholders lodged in the Namibian Supreme Court lapsed as they did not file the record in time.
The minority shareholders however argued that as persons with a direct interest in the proceedings at the SME Bank, they are entitled to be granted an opportunity to be heard when important decisions are taken.
Both parties asked the court for costs on the scale of one instructing and two instructed counsels.
The minority shareholders were represented by Pearce Rood SC assisted by Advocate Anthony Bishop on instructions of Sisa Namandje, and the liquidators by Advocate Raymond Heathcote and Advocate Jesse Schickerling, on instructions of Francois Erasmus.