PG examines SME Bank looting documents for criminal activity

Martha Imalwa

Prosecutor general (PG) Martha Imalwa says she and her team are meticulously examining documents detailing the alleged looting of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Bank to determine whether any criminal activity contributed to the bank’s closure in 2017.

Supreme Court judge Dave Smuts two weeks ago directed the court’s registrar to provide a set of documents the bank’s liquidators filed in the High Court to Imalwa.

Imalwa said her office would analyse the documents alongside the case file.

“A criminal case has to be proven beyond reasonable doubt. It’s a heavy burden we have as prosecutors, but it’s in my hands now,” Imalwa said yesterday.

In those documents, the liquidators set out in detail the results of an investigation they carried out into the theft of money from SME Bank.

The Supreme Court has ruled in favour of SME Bank’s liquidators, allowing them to pursue legal action against key figures in the bank’s collapse.

The court received documents outlining large-scale theft from SME Bank, allegedly perpetrated by Enock Kamushinda and Zimbabwean associates in the bank’s finance department.

Over N$247 million was reportedly funnelled to entities in South Africa.

Appeal judge Dave Smuts said no warrant for Kamushinda’s arrest was issued in Namibia, despite evidence suggesting potential crimes like theft and contraventions of financial regulations. Kamushinda reportedly left Namibia before the Bank of Namibia intervened in 2017.

The Supreme Court has directed an investigation into lawyer Francois Bangamwabo’s conduct for potentially misleading the court regarding an appeal filed by Kamushinda and associates.

Bangamwabo assisted Kamushinda, Metbank and World Eagle Investments in court proceedings after SME Bank’s liquidators had bank accounts of Metbank frozen in South Africa. He stated under oath that an appeal his clients had lodged in the Supreme Court had not lapsed, after a lawyer representing the liquidators had informed him in letters during 2021 the appeal had lapsed, Smuts noted. In its judgement, the Supreme Court stated that orders given against Kamushinda, Metbank and World Eagle Investments in a High Court judgement in October 2020 can be executed, as the appeal they filed against the High Court’s judgement has lapsed.

In the High Court’s judgement, acting judge Collins Parker declared Kamushinda liable for the liabilities of SME Bank.

Kamushinda, World Eagle Investments and Metbank were also declared liable for the debts of SME Bank in July 2017.

In addition to that, Parker granted a judgement against Kamushinda, World Eagle Investments and Metbank for the payment of N$1,02 billion to SME Bank’s liquidators.

He further granted a judgement against Metbank and World Eagle Investments for the payment of N$121 million and N$20 million, respectively, to SME Bank’s liquidators.

The orders made by Parker can be executed, Smuts stated in the Supreme Court’s judgement.

Smuts noted that the Bank of Namibia licensed SME Bank at the end of November 2012.

The central bank approved a 30% shareholding in SME Bank for Metbank, and 5% shareholding for World Eagle Investments, while the remaining 65% of the shares in the bank were held by the Namibian government, through the Namibia Financing Trust.

With their investigations, the liquidators were able to establish that more than N$247,5 million was stolen from funds held by SME Bank, with this money mostly transferred to entities in South Africa, Smuts recounted.

He stated: “The large-scale misappropriation of SME Bank funds was, according to the compelling evidence provided by the liquidators, perpetrated by Mr Kamushinda and identified individuals who were employed in the finance department of SME Bank, all of whom were, like Mr Kamushinda, Zimbabwean nationals.”

He also recounted that the liquidators provided evidence that some of the stolen money was in turn transferred to the companies Crown Finance Corporation and Heritage Investments, which were both owned or controlled by Kamushinda.

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