WINDHOEK, 17 MAY – Distressed former employees of the SME Bank called on Government to assist them financially and to write off their loans with the bank.
The dismayed group of about 40 people made these requests here on Thursday when they protested and handed over petitions to the ministries of Finance; Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development; Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation.
The SME Bank ceased its contracts with 208 employees of the bank in July 2017 after the Bank of Namibia took control of the bank on 01 March. In early July, BoN applied for a provisional order to have the SME Bank’s operations wound up and received such liquidation through a High Court order issued in November 2017.
This comes after about N$ 200 million went missing. The money was allegedly invested in foreign entities and could not be traced.
The bank opened for business in December 2012.
Delivering the petition on behalf of the employees, Justine Gerhardt said the government should pay them nine months’ salaries as their retrenchment resulted in dire consequences on them and their dependents.
She further noted that they were head-hunted from their previous employers and had to resign within 24 hours to assist the SME Bank to obtain its licence.
“Given the insolvent situation of the bank, the liquidators were only in a position to offer one week pay for each year of service,” said Gerhardt.
Meanwhile, a representative of people who deposited money at the bank, Herbert Tjongarero said the majority of depositors were small business owners whose money is now stuck with the bank, and they are now unable to pay taxes and employees, amongst others.
“We don’t owe SME Bank. SME Bank owes us money, we want our money,” stated Tjongarero.
He added they are not in a position to pay taxes at the moment.
Receiving the petition, Deputy Minister of Finance, Natangwe Ithete said anyone experiencing difficulty in paying taxes must approach the ministry’s offices.