Destination everywhere

The frequent flying of executives and managers cost the liquidated bank millions in the short time it existed.

31 July 2018 | Banking

While details of the raided SME Bank continue to unfold in court and elsewhere, hundreds of travel documents have surfaced, revealing how the bank's executives, their families and business partners travelled at the bank's expense.

The leaked documents catalogue frequent trips between Windhoek and Harare, often via Johannesburg; jaunts to the Victoria Falls; and expensive trips to Dubai, Singapore, India, the Seychelles and Mauritius.

These trips, booked through Rennies Travel Namibia, which handled the bank's travel account between 2013 and 2017, cost more than N$5 million.

It is understood that many other trips were booked through other travel agencies, which included former non-executive board member Enoch Kamushinda's company, Crown Finance Corporation.

Travel was not part of the executives' employment benefits.



The frequent flyers

Judging from monthly statements between 2013 and 2017, the most frequent flyers on the SME Bank account were Zimbabwean nationals Tawanda Mumvuma (former CEO), former non-executive director turned Zanu-PF candidate Ozias Bvute, former ICT managers Takura Mapfumo and Nomore Beremauro, and businessman Lyndon Gaidzanwa.

Preferring business-class travel, Mumvuma alone ran up a travel bill of more than N$1 million. This included a bill of N$202 201.60 for a family trip to Dubai during December 2015 and January 2016.

He was accompanied by his wife and two children.

The SME Bank spent N$973 158.70 on air travel and accommodation for Bvute, who is also the group CEO of Metropolitan Holdings and a board member of Metbank.

Like most executives, Bvute preferred to travel business class and frequently travelled from Harare to Windhoek via Johannesburg, which costs much more than a direct flight.

Bvute often stayed at luxury Johannesburg hotels like the Palazzo Montecasino Hotel, costing over N$2 000 per night, or at the Intercontinental Hotel at Oliver Tambo International Airport, costing no less than N$3 000 per night for a deluxe room.

The SME Bank also footed a bill of more than N$600 000 for Zimbabwean businessman Lyndon Gaidzanwa, who on occasion travelled with his wife. He would often rent cars for days on the bank's account. His wife once rented a car for three days at the SME Bank's expense.

According to the leaked documents, Gaidzanwa travelled to Dubai a number of times on the bank's account. On one occasion he was accompanied by Namibian businessman Jeremiah Iyaloo Nangolo. On another occasion he was accompanied by Johannesburg lawyer Ovid Chitsiku.

Chitsiku flew at least ten times on the SME Bank's account, costing the bank N$117 007.77.

While Chitsiku had no dealings with the SME Bank, he is a corporate lawyer of Kamushinda's Malaysian-based group of companies, Asia Corporate Services.

Mapfumo's and Beremauro's airfares cost the bank N$320 000 and N$170 000 respectively.

The airfares of former finance manager Joseph Banda amounted about N$156 118.

Former general manager for lending, business development and support services Joseph Nyamunda's travel bill was comparatively moderate at N$107 353.

Surprisingly, Kamushinda's airfare was not more than N$90 000.



Others

Since Tania Hangula became the board chairperson of the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) in 2016 she became a regular flyer at the SME Bank's expense.

From the statements it appears that Hangula travelled 13 times on the SME Bank's account, at a cost of more than N$170 000. Two of these flights were to Dubai.

Hangula would not comment on this, saying the ongoing court case pertaining to the SME Bank did not allow her, as a responsible citizen, to comment in a matter that is sub judice. She did, however, say that she would be available for comment after the case is finalised.

Wilson Manase, former chairperson at Metbank, travelled mostly between Windhoek and Harare via Johannesburg at the bank's expense, costing it close to N$80 000.

Two Chinese nationals, Zhao Shuming and Wenxiang Xin (or variously spelled Xiang Xinwen), were flown to Ondangwa and Rundu on several occasions and ate at an airport hotel on the bank's account.

Rennies Travel Namibia would neither confirm nor deny the authenticity of the travel documents, citing a confidentiality agreement it had signed with the SME Bank.

Kamushinda declined to answer questions sent to him because the SME Bank matter is still before the court. Others said clarity should be sought from the SME Bank.

Gaidzamwa said his commercial services agreement with the SME Bank included professional travel.

Bvute and others did respond to questions.

CATHERINE SASMAN

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