Ex-DBN head of credit cleared

By Hilary Mare

FORMER Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) head of credit, Vivian Groenewald has been cleared of all charges that had been levelled against him following allegations that senior officials in the SME credit department allegedly approved loans to companies fronted by their proxies involving N$80 million, Confidente can confirm.

Groenewald and four other officials were suspended after the DBN board initiated an investigation into the allegations.

A forensic investigation was conducted by Ernst and Young.

“As for Mr Groenewald, the bank withdraws any charges indicted in the suspension letter,” Martin Inkumbi, DBN CEO said.

Groenewald was suspended on five charges including conflict of interest, fraud and gross negligence. All the charges have since been cleared.

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“I have served the banking industry for over 28 years and DBN for eight years and in that time I have acted in the best interests of the industry. I am glad that the investigation found this to be true and cleared me of all charges. I have suffered huge reputational damage but will continue to strive to serve the Namibian nation,” Groenewald told Confidente.

Confidente reported in April 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 Luderitz enroute to China.

Of the 30 SMEs that had applied for funding to the bank in order to purchase trucks to service the tender, 21 had already been approved on February 28 and these were to supply about 43 trucks to Meerkat and subsequently Trade Port Namibia.

Trade Port Namibia is the transport contractor for Tshipi mine.

Confidente was at the time informed that each of the 21 approved SME loans for this tender was to get a loan of between N$4-5 million.

“The Bank does investigate all complaints or allegation of misconduct it receives through its anonymous whistleblower platform.

  Where deemed necessary to ensure an unhindered investigation, the Bank may temporarily suspend an employee. No employee is guilty until wrongdoing has been proven. However, the Bank is committed to probe all allegations of misconducts reported to it,” Inkumbi said at the time.

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An agreement was reached in 2018 between Namport and Trade Port Namibia to export manganese ore to China.

Trade Port Namibia intended to export 30 000 tons on a monthly basis and gradually ramp this up to 80 000 tons monthly.

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

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

Meanwhile, Groenewald who is now into consultancy has had a long illustrious relationship with the banking sector.

In the last two years he was appointed as board member and member of the Investment Committee of Liberty Life Namibia as well as being part of the technical team that oversaw the procurement of a new core banking system for DBN as well as the implementation of IFRS 9.

Over the years, he served as chairman of the efficiency and innovation committee of DBN, chairman of the management credit and investment committee of DBN, member of the EXCO, risk and ALCO committees of DBN, Cavmont Bank project manager for the fluid internet banking project and visa card project among many other banking sector achievements.