Shiimi kicks out Agribank board chair

The minister pointed Iyambo to the exit over the loan the latter acquired from the very bank he chairs.

05 May 2021 | Agriculture

MATHIAS HAUFIKU







WINDHOEK

Agribank board chairperson Michael Iyambo was recently forced to resign from his position due to alleged “irregularities” finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi was not happy with.

Namibian Sun understands Iyambo left the agricultural bank last month after being forced out. Sources said Shiimi gave him an ultimatum to either resign or face being fired.

Iyambo yesterday refused to comment, only saying “finance will give you the information you are looking for”.

Shiimi, according to sources, is not impressed with the manner in which Iyambo used his position to access Agribank funding.

The finance ministry’s spokesperson Tonateni Shidhudhu yesterday confirmed Iyambo’s departure.

“We confirm that Mr Iiyambo was asked to resign from the board because his role as a board member and that, as a client of Agribank, [it] placed him in a difficult conflict-of-interest situation,” he said.

Abuse of power

Given that untenable situation, Shidhudhu said “we felt it is in the best interest for him to step down”.

Iyambo has for years been accused of using his influential position to get leniency from Agribank as far as his loan with the bank is concerned.

There were media reports in 2019 suggesting that Iyambo received a N$20 million loan from Agribank, which he is struggling to pay back.

He allegedly transferred his corporate loan to Bank Windhoek and back to Agribank when he became the chairperson.

The bank allegedly also allowed him to delay his instalments and he got loans that are not secured, unlike for other loan applicants.

Agribank defended Iyambo at the time saying the N$20 million loan amount is exaggerated and that the bank has sound governance structures in place to ensure that its interests are not compromised.

Those close to Iyambo claim the move to oust him was prompted by his stance against bank policies that make it hard for emerging farmers from previously disadvantaged communities to access funding.

Iyambo apparently decided to resign because fighting the minister would have an adverse impact on the reputation of the bank, a source said.

Double blow

Iyambo’s departure comes at the same time news broke that the bank’s CEO Sakaria Nghikembua will not be seeking a second term.

Nghikembua will join Momentum Metropolitan Namibia as its CEO as of 1 August.

He joined the board in August 2016.

Nghikembua returns to the investment and insurance space, which he is already familiar with.

He was part of the team that was responsible for the transformation of Namibia Post Ltd as its CEO, and later served as the CEO of operations at Old Mutual and as managing director of Old Mutual Short-Term Insurance Company.

He also played a key role in the integration of the former Mutual and Federal Insurance Company into Old Mutual Holdings.

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