Metbank, Zambian firm lock horns

Metbank subsequently issued a letter of credit to Yetu Agro’s bank which was First Capital Bank Zambia, payable through Ecobank France.

LOCAL bank Metbank is embroiled in a scandal in which it has reportedly failed to pay US$78  000, in a transaction that involved delivery of maize by a Zambian firm, Yetu Agro.Documents seen by NewsDay Business show that Power Zimbabwe, a company under the War Veterans Affairs ministry, got a contract to supply the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) with 10 000 tonnes of maize from Zambia in 2016.

The company entered a supply/purchase contract with Yetu Agro, locally represented by business tycoon Nkosilathi Sibanda, at a cost of US$390 per tonne.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, which was the funder of the maize import programme, opened an escrow account with Metbank and deposited a total of US$3,9 million from which drawdowns would be made upon presenting delivery notes from GMB.

Metbank subsequently issued a letter of credit to Yetu Agro’s bank which was First Capital Bank Zambia, payable through Ecobank France.The documents further noted that because of payment challenges that Metbank faced coupled with some logistical problems on the Zambian side, only a total of 1 320 tonnes were imported.

“For the tonnage imported, a total of US$514 800 was drawn from the escrow account into the Power Zimbabwe (sic). Out of that drawn-down amount, Power Zimbabwe withdrew a total of US$151 800 leaving US$363 000 to be remitted by Metbank to Yetu Agro bank account at First Capital Bank Zambia,” read the document.

It further noted that after the first payment of US$46 200 to Zambia, US$6 400 was paid to the Zimbabwean representative for operational expenses as per instruction from Yetu Agro.

By February 28, 2018, US$308  000 was still not remitted to Zambia, forcing Yetu Agro director Richard Chizyuka to come to Harare where he met with Power Zimbabwe and Metbank officials regarding the outstanding payments.

In the meetings, Metbank indicated that it was facing forex allocation challenges at the RBZ to remit to Zambia as it was in short supply.

This prompted the Yetu Agro representatives to approach the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) as the importation of maize was a special dispensation granted by the then president of Zambia at a time the country had imposed an embargo on maize exports.

“The OPC contacted the RBZ governor upon which the central bank undertook to assist with US$228 000 and the funds were duly remitted to Zambia in four tranches of US$20 000, US$50 000, US$58 000 and the last being US$100 000. Metbank undertook to raise the balance of US$80 000, which was never done despite the bank promising to pay before the end of the week on May 2, 2018,” read the document.

Yetu Agro then instructed Metbank to buy a ticket for its Zimbabwean representative to travel to the United States for US$2 000, leaving a balance of US$78 000 which remains unpaid to date.

Despite Yetu Agro instructing it, through a power of attorney, to pay its Zimbabwean representative, Metbank has failed to execute the transaction. In a letter dated January 12, 2024, Yetu Agro demanded that the bank pays within seven days or explain why it was failing.

Metbank managing director Elias Muzinda promised to respond to our inquiries but had not done so by the time of going to print.

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