SME Bank depositors still licking their wounds

Massive losses anticipated

15 September 2021 | Local News



Depositors of liquidated SME Bank are still waiting to receive their payments from the bank – despite an agreement that they would be paid 10 cents on each dollar they had in their accounts.

The depositors also claimed that the liquidators, Ian McLaren and David Bruni, did not have follow-up meetings to discuss the developments pertaining to pay-outs they were meant to receive.

“We do not know what to do or where and whom to approach. We are troubled, we are bankrupt, banks have repossessed our cars and houses. We need our money from SME Bank - not tomorrow, but now,” depositors who approached Namibian Sun said.

Shareholders of the SME Bank were Namibia Financing Trust (Pty) Ltd, representing the Namibian government which holds 65% of the shares; Metropolitan Bank of Zimbabwe (35%), and World Eagle Investments (5%).

The SME Bank was closed in 2017 after approximately N$200 million the bank ‘invested’ with South African entities vanished into thin air. It is alleged that a lot of the SME Bank funds were deposited into Venda Building Society (VBS) Mutual Bank, a South African bank that is also now under curatorship.

The liquidators are claiming that between 11 October 2012 and 29 April 2015, an amount of N$97.1 million was transferred to South African recipients. Another transfer of N$53.5 million was made to South Africa between 30 April 2015 and 1 September 2015.

The bank again made a transfer totalling N$97.5 million to the South African recipients between 1 September 2015 and 17 January 2017.

After liquidation, the bank’s 208 employees lost their jobs.

Millions stolen

The liquidators of the bank are also accused of deviating from an original agreement to at least pay out N$0.25 on the dollar, depositors said.

“The initial verbal promise in the meeting held by SME Bank depositors and Bruni and McLaren liquidators was that we will receive at least N$0.25 for every dollar we are owed as settlement, and it was not done,” depositors said.

A whopping 23 259 claims had been made against the bank - to the combined value of over N$1 billion.

High Court judge Collins Parker concluded that N$247 million had been stolen from the bank before its liquidation in 2017.

The Bank of Namibia placed the former lender under curatorship after between N$181 million and N$196 million had been invested in questionable securities in South African financial instruments.

The former deputy chairperson of SME Bank, Enoch Kamushinda, his company World Eagle Investments and another other minority shareholder, Metbank, were found to be responsible for the liabilities amounting to N$1 billion.