DBN loan scandal investigation nears completion

By Hilary Mare

AN investigation into a loan that rocked the Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) involving at least N$120 million in which senior officials in the SME credit department allegedly approved tenders to companies fronted by their proxies, has now progressed to an advanced stage.

The alleged scandal has implicated and led to suspension of Vivian Groenewald, Head: Credit Risk, Stanley Gaoseb, SME Credit Manager, John Jacobs, Senior SME Credit Manager and Heinrich Tsaudab, SME Manager.

Former DBN employees Arthur Dietrich and Danie Loxton are also alleged to be involved while in the interim; Cindy Raw was recently appointed Acting Head: Credit Risk.

Exclusively speaking to Confidente this week, DBN Chief Executive Officer, Martin Inkumbi highlighted that a preliminary report has already been availed to the board of directors.

“The investigation is still ongoing and already there is a report that has been shared with the board. We are progressing and the final report of this investigation should be done before the end of this month,” Inkumbi said.

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Confidente reported last month that the loans in questions were approved for 21 SMEs that were subcontracted by Meerkat – a non-exclusive truck sourcing broker for Trade Port Namibia (Pty) Ltd – to supply trucks for the transportation of manganese from Tshipi Mine to the Port of Lüderitz en route to China.

Trade Port Namibia is the transport contractor for Tshipi Mine.

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Confidente was informed that each of the 21 approved SME loans for this tender was to get a loan of between N$4-5 million stretching the approval past the N$100 million mark. Funds have already been disbursed to some of the approved SMEs.

In a memo to employees of the bank last month, Inkumbi noted that his board on April 8 took a decision to suspend, pending investigation, members of the bank’s staff due to alleged misconduct levelled against these employees.

Said Inkumbi: “Please, understand that banking is a business of trust.

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It is imperative that DBN manage its affairs to maximise public confidence at all times. It is against this backdrop that the board has taken this decision. The bank will in due course announce measures to ensure that the suspensions of the above mentioned employees will not affect the bank’s ability to continue operating.”

He further cautioned that if employees are requested by the bank to assist in this matter or any other investigation of a breach of ethics, they should give the duly appointed investigator full cooperation.

“Employees are requested to exercise restraint, not to speculate or add to rumours.

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Employees are also reminded to observe their confidentiality agreements with the bank and should not under any circumstances communicate externally.

Reporting on fraud, corruption, nepotism and other breaches of ethics or misuse of the bank’s resources should use the confidential external channels which protect whistle-blowers.”

An agreement was reached in 2018 between Namport and TradePort Namibia to export manganese ore via the Port of Lüderitz destined for China.

TradePort Namibia intend to export 30 000 tonnes on a monthly basis and gradually ramp this up to 80 000 tonnes monthly.

This project will generates N8 million per annum to the economy and there will also be other support industries and services such as stevedoring, cleaning services, security, retail, fuel engineering etc.

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Last year, Namport estimated that around 610 employment opportunities will also be created in the initial stage of the manganese project.

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