LUSAKA — Zambia is investigating the 2007 sale of a 49% stake in state-owned Zanaco Bank to Netherlands lender Rabobank , in yet another case that could see a reversal of a deal involving foreigners.
President Michael Sata has chipped away at several deals made during the administration of his predecessor Rupiah Banda, after being elected in September on a promise to fight corruption.
On Sunday, Justice minister Sebastian Zulu said a government commission would determine whether the sale of Zanaco was legal and met privatisation requirements.
“We are going there with an open mind to hear evidence, as we did with Zamtel, starting on Wednesday (tomorrow) this week,” Zulu said, referring to the inquiry.
Zanaco, or Zambia National Commercial Bank PLC, has the largest network of branches in the country.
After Rabobank, which owns 49%, the government is the second-largest shareholder with 45%. A farmers’ union owns 4% and the rest is listed on the stock exchange.
“We have taken notice of the announcement of the formation of a commission of inquiry pertaining to the sale of the bank to Rabobank,” the Dutch lender said in a statement.
“Rabobank has not received further communication with regard to the scope and timeframe of the inquiry. Generally, it’s our policy to fully cooperate with these kind of inquiries,” it added.
In November, the Zambian government ruled a 2010 sale of fixed-line operator Zamtel to Libya’s LAP Green Networks was illegal.
This week it dissolved the board of Libya-controlled Zamtel and appointed a new acting CEO, a day after it announced plans to seize 75% of Zamtel from LAP Green Networks.
In a statement issued on Friday Zanaco said: “We look forward to the review of the privatisation process of Zanaco, which was extensive and took place over a period of many years.