BY BUSINESS REPORTER
MetBank yesterday tendered about $37,3 million to the National Social Security Authority (Nssa), the value for the Treasury Bills (TBs) the bank was withholding as security in a fertilizer financing programme that has become a subject of corruption investigations.
The bank paid Nssa $24,9 million in January to the pension fund, and yesterday’s payment means there are no longer any TB-related transactions between the two institutions.
“We write in respect of the Treasury Bill with the face value of $37 350 000 (thirty seven million three hundred and fifty thousand dollars) tendered as
security for a fertilizer financing structure to MetBank Limited,” part of the payment note reads.
“As per your call to have the same tendered back to Nssa, we hereby return the below captioned Treasury Bill.”
MetBank was listed in an audit on Nssa funds as one of the companies that corruptly benefited from Nssa funds, allegations the bank is denying, claiming they
were in a commercial agreement that the pension fund violated, leading to court battles.
According to the bank, Nssa agreed to provide security in a fertilizer structure using double valued TBs in order to give security of investment to companies
that had agreed to fund the fertilizer deal, including Ecobank and BankABC.
But midway in the programme, it alleged, Nssa pulled out of the agreement leading to MetBank approaching the courts for a determination.
The bank also held on to the TBs, arguing it was illegal for the pension authority to pull out of the agreement. But Nssa claimed there was no agreement.
However, a letter by Nssa to the Insurance and Pensions Commission (Ipec) on June 20, 2017 confirmed the agreement.
“We refer to the application for prescribed asset status, which application was furnished to you by MetBank Limited, the arranger of record for the fundraise
and advise as follows:
“We confirm that Nssa intends to provide the TBs which are able to be embedded as security to the debt instructed to be issued by the issuers. The inclusion of
these TBs into the fundraise structure have made it possible for the quality of access financing at fine rates,” part of the letter read.
“We believe that the use of our Treasury Bills will enable participation by private sector investors in the production of fertilizers. We accordingly attach an
extract from the minutes of the Board Investments and Procurement Committee, which approves all Nssa investments and in which meeting the structure was approved.”
The letter was signed by Herbert Hungwe, Nssa’s chief investments officer.
Vela has since described the forensic report as an interview, not a forensic audit. Ozias Bvute who was sighted in the report, attended the meetings on his
official capacity as MetBank chief executive, not individual since these were commercial transactions between institutions.