The long-suffering depositors of the now defunct SME Bank will have to wait longer before they get their money back if the lender’s minority shareholders succeed with their latest legal manoeuvres.
The Windhoek Observer is aware of a letter written on 2 February to the bank’s liquidators, David Bruni and Ian McLaren, by lawyer Sisa Namandje, asking them not to go ahead with plans to pay depositors up to N$25,000 since the Zimbabwean minority shareholders have appealed to the Supreme Court the decision to liquidate the bank.
The letter stated that if the liquidators go ahead with the payments, the minority shareholders would file an urgent interdict to stop the process which is due to start on Monday.
Namandje confirmed the appeal to the Supreme Court, but refused to confirm whether he had asked the liquidators to stop the payments plan.
“The letter is not for the public domain,” he said.
He said the minority shareholders had appealed the final liquidation order to the Supreme Court.
“We have appealed to the Supreme Court; we are filling the case right now.”
Bruni had not responded to questions sent to his office via email by the time of going to press.
Last week, the High Court authorised the liquidators to take legal action outside Namibia as part of efforts to recover about N$175 million the bank lost in a failed investment in South Africa. According to the ruling, the liquidators can now take legal action in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
The court also gave permission to the liquidators to pay depositors up to N$25,000. SME Bank, according to court documents, has about N$60 million in liabilities.
The Namibian government, through the company Namibia Financing Trust, owns 65 percent of the shareholding in the SME Bank, while the Metropolitan Bank of Zimbabwe is a 30 percent shareholder and the Zimbabwean company Worldeagle Properties has a five percent stake.