Union to sue SME Bank directors

17 July 2017 | Banking

The Namibia Financial Institutions Union (Nafinu) is in the process of instituting a class action lawsuit against the former directors of the bankrupt SME Bank, according to its general secretary Asnath Zamuee.

According to her, the SME Bank's directors should be made to pay the ultimate price for the demise of the former lender.

“We are of the view that the insolvent situation of the bank was as a result of gross negligence and carelessness on the part of those who were entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring prudent administration of public funds deposited at the bank,” she told Namibian Sun. According to Zamuee, it was only fair that the directors be sued for their role in the mismanagement of the SME Bank. “The board failed miserably in its oversight function and now innocent employees have to pay with their jobs. Those responsible for the mess at the bank are waiting for the dust to settle on this issue and to simply move on to their next project. This will not happen. The fight has just begun,” said Zamuee.

Ian Mclaren and David Bruni were appointed by the Master of the High Court to manage the affairs of the SME Bank in the interim as liquidators and moved quickly to issue a statement pertaining to the final pay packages of the 208 employees.

“Your claim against the bank which has absolute preference above any other claims will accordingly be as follows; one month full salary as notice pay, leave pay according to the leave records of the bank [and] severance pay allowance as calculated for each completed year of service and arrear wages and salaries,” the SME Bank liquidators said last week.

Speaking on liquidation matters, Zamuee said Nafinu would engage Ian Mclaren and David Bruni positively.

“While we will continue to engage the liquidators, we wish to state that we fully understand their role and function and have no desire in making their task difficult.

“Our fight is not against the liquidators, but against government and the former executive management as well as the board of directors of the bank,” said Zamuee.

The SME Bank was a joint venture between the Namibian government (65%), the Metropolitan Bank of Zimbabwe (30%) and controversial Zimbabwean businessman Enock Kamushinda (5%).

SME Bank's previous board was made up of cabinet secretary George Simataa as chairman, Petrina Nakale, Theofelus Mberirua, Milka Mungunda, Kamushinda and Ozias Bvute.

Zimbabwean national Tawanda Mumvuma served as CEO.

“We believe that we are the sacrificial lambs in this process that involves Zimbabwean nationals who messed up the bank and are now back in their country, leading normal lives,” said Zamuee.

Judge Hannelie Prinsloo last week ruled that the bank be placed under the control of the Master of the High Court for provisional liquidation.


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