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BoN, Trustco tussle heads to High Court

2022-09-30  Maihapa Ndjavera

BoN, Trustco tussle heads to High Court

The Bank of Namibia is expected to apply to the High Court today for the liquidation of Trustco Bank Namibia, a subsidiary of Trustco Group Holdings. 

The saga continues while Trustco Bank Namibia attempts to enter full commercial banking operations.

In a statement released on Wednesday, BoN governor Johannes !Gawaxab said the bank’s board is of the view that Trustco Bank Namibia (TBN) is commercially insolvent at this time. “TBN continues to operate without an approved viable business plan and sufficient capital to carry out the plan, which is vital for the viability and sustainability of the business,
and is expected of all industry players,” he emphasised.

The governor reiterated that the primary purpose of the winding-up application is thus to protect TBN’s depositors and creditors, and to ensure that non-compliance with the applicable laws does not pose any further risks.

The liquidation application is the culmination of a series of regulatory engagements and interventions that have failed to restore TBN’s governance and viability to acceptable regulatory levels since 2020.  Some of the shortcomings identified over this period and not satisfactorily resolved by TBN and its shareholders include severe flaws in the bank’s risk management practices and systems, its failure to maintain liquidity ratios within the prescribed ratios, and a failure to comply with agreed-upon directives to re-capitalise the institution.

Yesterday, TBN said “the expected application for liquidation has not been served on TBN as yet.”

As the regulator of banking institutions in Namibia, !Gawaxab affirmed that BoN has engaged TBN over the past two years in an attempt to ensure regulatory compliance and, ultimately, the financial sustainability of TBN.  “Measures recommended by the Bank of Namibia to TBN include, among others, the recapitalisation of TBN, which was not done in full as expected. More recently, however, TBN furnished BoN with financial projections and a business plan, which it claimed would secure a sustainable turnaround of TBN. Contrary to what is claimed, BoN did not decline any offer of the capitalisation of TBN by Trustco Group Holdings (TGH), but in response gave a detailed analysis of the proposed business plan and the reasons why BoN regarded the plan as inadequate,” he added.

TBN has been operating in the Namibian market since December 2016 when they were granted a commercial banking license by the central bank after acquiring Fides Bank.

!Gawaxab stated at the board’s meeting on 5 September 2022 after engagements that they had no other option than to resolve to apply to the High Court for the winding
-up of TBN. He said the bank informed TBN of its decision to pursue legal action on 16 September 2022, before TBN’s launching of the review application. 


Trustco stance

On Monday, TGH approached the High Court, claiming BoN denied its N$1 billion investment in the Namibian banking industry.

TBN and TGH said they unfortunately had no choice but to file a notice of motion to review several directives and decisions issued by BoN against TBN since 25 July 2022 in the High Court.

In terms of the notice, TGH and TBN claim that the directives and decisions issued by BoN were unconstitutional on several grounds. According to the statement, TGH’s current investment in TBN represents 1% of its net assets of N$6.5 billion. Trustco Bank is a small 100% Namibian-owned bank with limited deposits and a small loan book, but with immense potential. 

Yesterday, the group issued another statement, saying “TBN maintains that it is commercially solvent at this time, and that no client of TBN will need to use the Namibia Deposit Guarantee Authority, which provides a guarantee for only N$25 000 per depositor. All TBN client deposits are 100% backed by cash, and can be returned at the client’s request.

TBN clients are invited to contact the TBN helpdesk to collect their deposits should they wish to transfer their balances to any other entity. All clients with TBN loans are advised to continue to service their loans until otherwise informed,” read the statement.

2022-09-30  Maihapa Ndjavera

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