Monday, October 26, 2020

Former bankers stole $17.6 million from Namibian SME bank

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Prominent banker Enock Kamushinda and four of his Zimbabwean colleagues within the trade are being sued in the Namibian High Court by their former employer the southern African country N$247 million (US$17.6 million) for theft and fraud.

They were once employed by Namibia’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Bank which has brought the action against them.

The five are Kamushinda, who is a former board chairperson of the bank; Tawanda Mumvuma, a former finance manager of the bank; Chiedza Goromonzi, who was employed in the bank’s finance department; Joseph Banda and Lyndon Gaidzanwa.

The bank is now under provisional liquidation.

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SME Bank’s joint provisional liquidators, Ian McLaren and David Bruni, are claiming in a lawsuit filed recently that Kamushinda and colleagues were involved in theft, fraud and money laundering that resulted in the bank losing N$247 million from December 2013 to January 2017.

The liquidators are also claiming that Kamushinda, through his companies, Crown Finance Corporation and Heritage Investment Holdings, of which Kamushinda is the sole director, Mumvuma, Banda, Goromonzi and Gaidzanwa all acted in connivance to engage in the crimes for their own benefit.

According to the bank, the Zimbabwean expatriates were recipients and distributors of proceeds from unlawful activities as defined in Namibia’s Financial Intelligence Act.

McLaren and Bruni further allege that the five were involved in the creation and execution of false payment instructions in the SME Bank from December 2013 to January 2017.

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It is further alleged that a total amount of more than N$247.6 million was stolen from the bank through payments made as a result of those instructions.

However, in their first response to the lawsuit, Kamushinda, his two companies, Mumvuma and Goromonzi have given notice that they are raising exceptions to the claim, which they describe as “vague and embarrassing”, and thus not comprehensible to them.

Banda is denying that he either received or distributed any proceeds of unlawful activity and that he ever worked in cahoots with any of the other defendants.

He says he neither worked with anyone else to defraud the SME Bank, and that he personally or in collusion with anyone, ever falsified any payment instructions of the bank.

Gaidzanwa is also denying that he received stolen money from the bank.

However, he states in his plea, he was paid for consultancy services that he performed for the company World Eagle.

McLaren and Bruni are claiming that the five Zimbabweans rewarded themselves from time to time for their participation in the fraud and theft.

They are also claiming that Gaidzanwa received payments totalling about N$971 500 from May 2015 to May 2016 after money stolen from the SME Bank had been laundered through a bank account of a South African company, Asset Movement and Financial Services (AMFS).

A total amount of at least N$64 million stolen from the SME Bank was channelled through an account of AMFS and delivered in cash to a Johannesburg resident, George Markides.

Markides, it is further alleged, in turn delivered the loot in cash to Kamushinda, Mumvuma, Banda, Goromonzi and Gaidzanwa.

They are further claiming that a total of N$2,47 million was paid by the SME Bank to Crown Finance Corporation from April to July 2015, while a total of N$1,8 million was paid from the bank’s accounts to Heritage Investment Holdings from April 2015 to August 2016.

“The entire purpose of the transfer of the monies from the SME Bank was to hide and appropriate the proceeds of unlawful activities, and constitutes a grand scheme of money laundering,” McLaren and Bruni charge.

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Kamushinda is the founder of Metropolitan Bank of Zimbabwe.

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