A South African company, Asset Movement and Financial Services (AMFS) has allegedly paid money believed to be from the lost SME Bank millions, into the personal bank accounts of several Namibians.
The South African Financial Sector Conduct Authority and Small Market Enterprise Bank liquidators have, according to South African court documents, looked at the company (AMFS) with regards to the moving of N$64 million in cash. South African media house, City Press on 18 February this year reported that the South African financial regulator had flagged possible money laundering in the Namibia-VBS deals.
An inquiry (in terms of the Companies Act 28 of 2004) into the failure of the SME Bank started on Monday in Windhoek and is expected to continue today.
The inquiry is headed by legal counsel Natasha Bassingthwaighte.
The commission of inquiry was established in 2018 with the aim of tracing the close-to N$200 million that vanished from the bank that was set up to benefit small-scaled businesses.
Back in the land of the brave
While previous court documents revealed that the money was paid out in cash in Johannesburg, recent information is that the money had made its way back into the country.
The Patriot understands that the money – at least N$54 million – was paid into the bank accounts of at least three prominent people, whose names are known to The Patriot, as well as other Namibians.
This money is believed to have originated from the South African Asset Movement and Financial Services a cash delivery company based in Benoni, Gauteng. Court documents from 2018 show that the provisional liquidators Bruni and McLaren, found evidence that N$64 million stolen from SME bank was paid to an individual or individuals in Johannesburg.
A South African company register document shows the company’s registration number as 201736164207, while it shows that the company is still in business. It further shows that a director was appointed on 17 August 2017 but resigned on 1 November the same year.
The company’s address is listed as 16 Summer Glades Street Lakefield Benoni, 1501.
It was reported in the media that liquidators had access to Asset Management and Financial Services’ bank statements, which allegedly reveal that the money delivery firm handles as much as N$500 million in cash each month.
According to City Press, the regulators were looking into South African companies such as Asset Movement and Financial Services (AMFS) and Rustic Trading 10.
Several other South African and Namibian media reports indicated that AMFS received more than N$51 million from SME Bank and another N$12,4 million indirectly from SME nominees.
Asset Movement and Financial Services, according to City Press then delivered the funds as physical cash to a number of addresses in Johannesburg following the instructions of another South African business man.
A number of sources The Patriot spoke to, said that what has been revealed in the inquiry so far is set to cause serious political tension. It is also believed that some Namibian individuals may directly or indirectly be involved.
Apart from three local banks being summoned to testify, the inquiry also saw local businesswoman Tania Hangula as well as Executive Assistant to the Minister of Finance, Esau Mbako receiving subpoenas.
Hangula said that all she can say at this stage is that she was summoned to testify and declare all she knows concerning the matters relating directly or indirectly to the affairs of SME Bank.
“It is a closed hearing. The matter is under judgement and I remain ready and willing to comment once the matter is concluded,” Hangula said.
Mbako also claimed to carry no knowledge on the reasons behind his summoning. His legal representative, Advocate Slysken Makando, told The Patriot on Wednesday that his client was expected to testify on that day, but would only do so on Friday. The inquiry is expected to report back to the High Court in terms of its findings.
Sme liquidation journey
Liquidators McLaren and Bruni were empowered to take steps in South Africa and Zimbabwe to trace and recover assets of SME Bank.
This was after the bank received winding up orders when around N$200 million allegedly invested in South Africa, vanished into thin air.
A commission of inquiry that followed did not come without any opposition, as two Zimbabwean minority shareholders – Metropolitan Bank of Zimbabwe (Metbank) and World Eagle Investment – last year tried to stop the inquiry’s investigations into the bank’s failure.
The shareholders and Zimbabwean businessman Enock Kamishinda took the liquidators to court, but was not successful as the matter was dismissed and removed from the court roll.
It was dismissed after the three parties who approached the court failed to show up for the hearing.
The SME Bank was established in 2012. The Namibian government owned 65 percent shares, through Namibia Financing Trust. The Metropolitan Bank of Zimbabwe had 30 percent shareholding while World Eagle Investments had 5 percent.
Provisional liquidators in their affidavit in a South African High Court stated that a N$196 million investment was initially made with Mamepe Capital by the SME Bank.
An amount N$150 million of these funds were then divested at Mamepe and then invested with VBS Mutual Bank.
VBS was placed under curatorship on 11 March 2018 against a backdrop of a serious liquidity crisis at the mutual bank. The initial findings of the curator revealed significant financial losses in VBS, which prompted the decision to institute a forensic investigation.
The losses are reportedly around N$1,5 billion.
Banking documents indicate that N$150 million, N$25 million and N$10 million made their way from Mamepe to VBS Mutual Bank.
VBS Bank could not repay half-a-million Namibian dollars to SME Bank by April 2017.