SME Bank: Money laundering exposed

02 October 2019 | Banking

A company called Omulunga Capital Investments CC, of which Zimbabwean Cosmas Mushininga is the sole director, was placed under provisional liquidation by the High Court on Friday for money illegally spirited out of the SME Bank.

The High Court ordered that the company not be placed in final liquidation because the SME Bank liquidators still hope to retrieve something from Mushninga, who, according to the court papers filed, does not own any assets in Namibia and whose combined bank account statements in Namibia amount to little over N$18 000.

The first claim against Omulunga Capital is for an unpaid loan of N$5.5 million at 20% interest per year, for which SME Bank liquidators David Bruni and Ian McLaren could not find any documents confirming a written loan agreement. This amount “may very well have been stolen”, they state.



Further claim

The liquidators further state that Mushininga was one of the recipients of the N$79.8 million siphoned from the SME Bank and paid over to a South African-based cash transfer company and “money laundering machine”, Asset Movement and Financial Services CC (AMFS).





All payments made by AMFS to Omulunga were initiated from former SME Bank CEO Tawanda Mumvuma's office, who indicated the purpose of the transfers as “investments” in Mamepe Capital Asset Managers, the black empowerment financial services company in South Africa headed by politically connected Kotane Mauwana.

None of this money was paid over to Mamepe though, and the liquidators say it was simply stolen.

The liquidators found that although former SME Bank financial manager Joseph Banda did not sign payment instructions to AMFS, he is the next of kin of Mushininga and they had the same address in Kleine Kuppe, Windhoek.



Mushininga 'made haste'

Mushininga came to Namibia on 28 January 2016 - the date a visitor's visa was issued to him – and on the same day applied for a business savings account for Omulunga Capital at the SME Bank.

Later, on 1 February 2016, Mushininga applied for a second bank account at the SME Bank.



Dubai connection

A Dubai-based company, Aulion Global Trading DMCC, a precious metals trading company, issued an invoice of N$64.5 million to Omulunga Capital on 21 January 2016.

One day before Mushininga applied for his first account with the SME Bank – on 26 January 2016 – a certain Howie Baker of Pivot Capital (Pty) Ltd had instructed sole director of AMFS, Kalandra Viljoen, to transfer N$7.1 million to an SME Bank account held at Standard Bank, with a payment instruction referenced as 'Omulunga Capital Investments'.

On 27 January 2016 AMFS transferred the N$7.1 million to the SME Bank's Standard Bank account. This amount was later transferred to Omulunga Capital's account held in the SME Bank on an email instruction by Mushininga to Beatrice Kahunda, the former head of executive banking at the SME Bank.

The liquidators point out in the court documents that Kahunda was “another recipient from AMFS of the SME Bank's stolen funds”.

Further payments followed the same route –money transferred from AMFS to SME Bank accounts variously held at Standard Bank and FNB Namibia – and then laundered through Omulunga Capital Investment's bank accounts held at SME Bank and transferred on to Aulion Global Trading DMCC in Dubai.

The total payments made by AMFS amounted to N$26.2 million and a total of N$25.7 million was paid over to Aulion Global Trading DMCC.



'Not where it ends'

In a matter of weeks in June 2016, the liquidators point out, about N$4.6 million was also paid to Aulion Global “after being round-tripped” through four different accounts held by Omulunga at the SME Bank and Standard Bank.

In July that year, another N$4.5 million went via an FNB account into one of Omulunga's SME Bank accounts, this time with the source of the funds stated as Aulion Global.

A N$4.4 million remained in Omulunga's SME Bank account until 7 September that year, when N$4.2 million of it was again paid over to Aulion Global.

CATHERINE SASMAN