A heist most foul

06 March 2019 | Opinion

Nearly two years after the SME Bank was closed down, its liquidators are finally honing in on the Zimbabweans who jointly stole about N$347 million from the bank in a matter of one year.

Judge Collins Parker granted an order on Monday to attach the Namibian assets left behind by at least five of the alleged fraudsters.

Advocate Raymond Heathcote, acting on behalf of the liquidators, asked that a lawyer serve the notice on the Zimbabweans because they are “powerful and corrupt”.

But this is only part of the story of the demise of the SME Bank.

Of course the plight of the former workers has been highlighted, who are now jobless; what has not gained much traction is how this blatant robbery has affected those who would now be knocking on the doors of the bank for funding.

SME Bank was founded by government following the dissolution of the Small Business Credit Guarantee Trust (SBCGT), which was transformed into a fully-fledged commercial banking institution.

The bank was supposed to have provided special attention to projects of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and those catering to rural communities, micro-enterprises and previously disadvantaged individuals.

It also offered banking services to individuals and companies that were not necessarily SMEs, through personal banking (retail) and corporate banking, while also offering facilities to treasury and for international banking.

This puts this heist-most-foul in an even more shocking light, as the SME Bank robbers have literally stolen money from Namibian families, especially those with ambitions to either start or grow their small businesses. It is a shocking state of affairs.

Even more shocking, as reported by The Namibian recently, are revelations that around N$79 million of the N$200 million suspected to have been ferried to South Africa was returned to Namibia, where several individuals received it.

This has now laid bare the fact that Namibians were actively involved in stealing from their own.

It is equally shocking that no arrests are forthcoming.

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