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Looting spree at Interfin Bank unearthed

Looting spree at Interfin Bank unearthed

Friday, 15 June 2012 09:20

AN official investigation into the operations of Interfin Banking 
Corporation (IBC) unearthed wholesale looting that left the bank reeling 
from non-performing insider loans of US$60 million, poor corporate 
governance and general abuse of depositors’ funds by the bank’s shareholders 
and individuals linked to them, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.

According to sources close to  investigations into the affairs of the bank, 
now technically insolvent, major shareholders who included the bank’s 
founders Farai Rwodzi, Timothy Chiganze and Jerry Tsodzai, as well as their 
cahoots, siphoned depositor funds by granting themselves loans to the tune 
of more than US$60 million which were not being repaid.

The bank had a concentrated shareholding structure in which founders Rwodzi, 
Chiganze and Tsodzai owned a combined stake of 54,21% through various 
investment vehicles. Rwodzi and Chiganze chair the boards of Interfin 
Financial Services (IFS) and the bank, respectively.

According to sources, problems at the bank arose primarily because the 
boards of the parent company, Interfin Holdings Ltd and the subsidiary bank 
were compromised by the presence of these controlling shareholders on both 
boards. This severely limited the board’s independence and compromised their 
oversight and that of management.

The sources told the Independent this week as a result the bank was 
technically insolvent, with a negative core capital of US$92,9 million as at 
June 8 2012.
Insider loans amounted to US$59,914 million, while the bank had deliberately 
understated its bad loan provisions by more than US$44,342 million. These 
“prudential adjustments” left the bank’s core capital at minus US$92,9 

A recent four-day investigation by the central bank’s licensing, supervision 
and surveillance units established that while Interfin Banking Corporation 
reported insider loans of only US$2,9 million as at  December 31, 2011 , the 
investigation reportedly determined the bank had understated the level of 
insider loans which were non-performing.
The position had further deteriorated and as at March 31 the institution had 
negative core capital of US$49,32 million, stemming largely from insider 
loans of US$63,29 million.

“This means that the bank was involved in creative accounting, designed for 
the sole purpose of concealing the level of insider and non-performing 
loans”, the sources said, adding that the bank’s management and board had 
not proffered a satisfactory explanation for the alarming rise in insider 

As the bank now has a capital deficit of US$92,9 million, and given the 
minimum capital requirement of US$12,5 million for commercial banks, 
Interfin’s shareholders or prospective investors would need to invest around 
US$105,4 million just to comply with minimal capitalisation requirements and 
capital adequacy ratios.

The investigation also established that Interfin Bank had a negative 
liquidity gap of US$86,49 million in the critical zero to seven days time 
band. This means the bank was unable to meet withdrawals from clients and to 
make payments on their behalf, or meet its own administrative obligations.

Owing to its failure to refinance maturing liabilities, Interfin had 
accumulated outstanding payments of US$12 million in unpaid RTGS transfers, 
US$22 million in fixed deposit maturities not honoured and US$2,2 million in 
bank drafts it was failing to clear, rendering the bank technically 

The sources said apart from abusing depositors’ funds through exposing 
Interfin to non-performing insider loans, the investigations also 
established  the bank had, in the past five months, been paying expenses for 
an associate company, Interfin Management Services (IMS), to the tune of 
US$172 500. The expenses had been accounted for as fees in the bank’s book, 
the sources said.

The probe found Rwodzi had illegally and irregularly pledged his bank shares 
as security for a US$3 million loan from Al Shams Global, an outfit 
represented by businessman Jayesh Shah. It was this loan which Rwodzi used 
to acquire CFX Bank and was repayable over two years.

Al Shams is now said to be claiming US$3,679 million or 41% of Interfin. 
This transaction, which had the potential to alter the bank’s shareholding, 
was neither disclosed nor approved by the authorities.

The Independent’s own investigations established that Rwodzi had since 
February been under pressure to surrender share certificates to Shah. 
According to sources, Shah wrote several e-mails to Interfin’s company 
secretary demanding the share certificates.

The bank’s management and board was found to have presided over gross 
violations of prudential lending limits, with sources saying exposures to 
insiders were well above the 25% regulatory threshold.

For instance, the bank’s exposure to Interfin Nominees was 125,5%, 
StarAfrica was 88,29% and ZimAlloys stood at 136,88%, the sources said. 
These are all entities in which Rwodzi had major interests.

Interfin Nominees, an investment vehicle for Interfin Holdings, was owed a 
total US$14, 214 million which was advanced to fund the underwriting of the 
Star Africa and Art Corporation Rights Issues. This loan was not performing 
and the facility had expired in January 2012 but not repaid. IBC told the 
central bank the shares acquired through the underwriting transactions had 
since been pledged to various institutions to secure deposits. (In most 
cases, proper procedures were not followed in the granting of these loans).

Liquidity and Solvency Status

Interfin was technically insolvent with a negative core capital of US$92,9 
million as at  June 8, 2012

No explanation was given for the huge increase in insider loans, which 
amounted to US$63,29 million at  March 31, 2012 and were reported as US$2,9 
million at  December 31, 2012

The bank had a negative liquidity gap of US$86,49 million and outstanding 
payments of US$36,5 million.

The bank’s shareholders are required to inject US$105,4 million for the bank 
to comply with prescribed minimum capital requirements

–– Staff Writer.


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