Bank BIC unfazed by Dos Santos link

09 January 2020 | Banking

Namibian-based Bank BIC is confident that its links to Isabel dos Santos will not harm its reputation.

Bank BIC chief executive Lindsay Crawford said this in an interview yesterday, held in light of the developments engulfing Dos Santos, who is a big shareholder in the bank.

An Angolan court has ordered the seizure of the assets and bank accounts of the billionaire daughter of ex-President José Eduardo dos Santos. The seizure appears to be part of an anti-corruption drive by the current government in oil-rich Angola.

The administration of President Joao Lourenço is seeking to recover $1 billion (N$15 billion) it says it is owed by Isabel dos Santos and her associates.





She had repeatedly denied wrongdoing during her father's term in office.

Often described as Africa's richest woman, Dos Santos is estimated by Forbes magazine to have a fortune of $2.2 billion (N$31 billion).

Dos Santos and her associates in 2017 capitalised Bank BIC to the tune of N$285 million.

Crawford said the freezing of Dos Santos's assets would have no effect on the bank.

“Any decision that may be made on the assets of the bank's shareholders is irrelevant in terms of the bank's operation, management and relationship with its clients,” Crawford said.

“There is no direct shareholding by Ms Dos Santos in the bank, either upward or downward, in the holding business or the subsidiaries,” he added.

Crawford added that there are no interlinkages between Bank BIC Namibia and Banco BIC, its Angolan parent company.

“Bank BIC does not have as its shareholders any financial entities governed by Angolan law,” he said.

Commenting on the future of Bank BIC, Crawford said it was keen to make an impact in the local market.

“We like to think we are here to stay. We have moved out of the project phase and launched various products. Our branch network is expanding.

“We have branches in Windhoek, Walvis Bay and Rundu and our branch network is expanding. We will open one in Ondangwa while three more are in the pipeline,” he said.

The Bank of Namibia was also asked for comment on any possible local impact of Angola's actions against Dos Santos.

“The Bank of Namibia is aware of developments in Angola pertaining to a shareholder in a locally licensed bank, Bank BIC. It should be kept in mind that Bank BIC Namibia Limited is owned by multiple shareholders and the Bank of Namibia is not aware of any development that could threaten the stability of BIC Namibia at the moment,” its spokesperson Israel Zemburuka said.

“The Bank of Namibia has not received any instructions regarding the payment of dividends by any banking institution conducting banking business in Namibia.”

The Bank of Namibia would monitor Bank BIC, Zemburuka added.

OGONE TLHAGE

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