No one would be spared in SME Bank saga – Noa

Omuthiya-The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) yesterday said it suspected money-laundering in the SME Bank's unaccounted N$200 million investment, with director-general Paulus Noa saying those responsible would face the long arm of the law.

Speaking in Omuthiya yesterday, Noa said progress has been made in investigations into the dealings of the bank, which invested large amounts with little-known South African capital investment institutions.

Everyone, including those who may not have been directly responsible for the questionable investments, would have to explain how far their respectively roles influenced the eventual investment.

The police last month said it was on top of things as far as the probe is concerned, having been greatly assisted by the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) in South Africa. Police chief Sebastian Ndeitunga too suspected money-laundering.

In a startling claim, former SME Bank chairman George Simataa told New Era in an exclusive interview last week that the board of directors he chaired at the bank did not approve any such questionable investments.

He said first got wind of the matter when he got a call from Bank of Namibia Governor Ipumbu Shiimi, who alerted him to the suspicious transactions. Simataa said the SME Bank's board of directors was kept in the dark by management and suggested that, if anything, the bank's former CEO, Tawanda Mumvuma, would have to answer.

Mumvuma, and fellow Zimbabwean compatriots, former finance manager Joseph Banda and former treasury general manager Alec Gore, were relieved of their duties by the Bank of Namibia.

At a sensitisation meeting on the National Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan (NACS) held in Omuthiya yesterday, Noa, said no one will be spared in this matter, as they believe there is a case of money-laundering to be investigated, the likely result of mismanagement by those in charge of the bank.

He opined that making investments was in principle not a bad thing, as it aimed to generate higher returns, but strongly emphasised that someone has to be held accountable, as one of the officials must have been part of the managerial meeting at which the decision was made.

No one will be spared, because we have to follow up to the last and go deeper until the bottom. SME Bank doesn't have many transactions. It is only South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia then we will know who led to the state of affairs and where those managers are.

They went back to Zimbabwe, it's not like that they have disappeared into thin air. We know where they are. So, no one should make statements which create hopelessness that no one will be accounted for. Definitely there was someone who was a member of the management of the SME Bank, as a result investigations have to go on, Noa remarked.

To exonerate any person, I am not saying that someone has to speak on behalf of the other but everyone has to be answerable as to how far they have been involved, Noa told those in attendance.

It is for the fellow members of management to tell the nation what their role was in the matter. Because you will find that some managers have delegated powers, which they use to make loopholes through using policies in place. So, in this case what happened is that some managers failed to report to the board where they had invested the money.

What happened to SME Bank was caused by leaders who made wrong decisions that resulted in millions of dollars being wrongly invested, Noa argued.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia