20 September 2008

Zimbabwe: NMBZ Holdings Wants Shareholders to Make Good Fraud Losses

NMBZ Holdings will ask shareholders to inject funds to recover clients' money lost following the US$6.4 million fraud that rocked the institution last year.

According to the Reserve Bank's forensic audit, US$6.4 million was siphoned from the bank between January 10, 2006 and March 2, 2007.

Chief suspect, Shame Mandara, who was an assistant manager in NMB's treasury department, is alleged to have siphoned most of the money. He is believed to be living in the United States.

Of the money allegedly siphoned by Mandara, US$2.6 million belonged to clients' funds while the remainder was owned by the bank.

Benefit Washaya, NMBZ chief executive officer told Standard-business the bank would raise money to repay its clients.

The capital raising initiative would be completed by the end of the year, Washaya said.

"We will recapitalise to raise US$2.6 million, we are looking for money to pay clients' funds," Washaya said.

RBZ audits found that money was siphoned from NMB Bank through 210 fraudulent transactions.

The money was transferred into an offshore company, Cardinal Finance (Pvt), which holds an account with AKB Bank of Switzerland.

The investigators believe that Mandara could have been working in collusion with officials from other commercial banks.

Washaya said after settling clients' funds, the financial institution is looking at expanding its branch network. He said a branch would be opened at Joina center when construction at the site is complete. Joina center has been under construction for the past 10 years but is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

After Joina Centre, Washaya said, the financial institution would be scouting for two other sites for branches in Harare and Bulawayo.

Observers say the NMBZ has to pay up its clients to regain its former glory, tainted by the fraud. The financial institution has also not had a rosy relationship with the authorities. Twice, its foreign currency trading licence was withdrawn only to be released after management cleaned the mess.

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