Metbank demand Herald retract article on attachment of property over US$20 million TBs
By Nigel Pfunde
Metbank has expressed reservations about an article published in The Herald on Wednesday in which the bank is alleged to have received a writ of execution to attach property following a US$20 million ‘dispute’ with National Social Security Authority (NSSA) regarding Treasury Bills (TBs) investments, the Zim Morning Post has learnt.
In a letter seen by this publication authored by Metbank legal and corporate secretary Kiitu Zawanda and dated August 7, the bank demanded a retraction of the article.
Zawanda’s head of arguments were premised on detailing the specifics of the agreement Metbank entered into with NSSA.
In the letter, the bank categorically stated that contrary to the Herald report, it approached the bank with view of facilitating the transfer of the TBS in question to NSSA way before a High Court ruling was handed down.
“Both NSSA and Metbank were made aware of the judgement on 22nd of July 2019. Prior to receiving this judgement, Metbank of its own volition, wrote to NSSA on the 19th of July (letter attached) offering to transfer the TBs to them,’ read part of the letter.
Metbank went on to demand a wholesome retraction of the report which in their view, poses threat to potential collapse of business relationship and goodwill with their clients.
The bank stated that it will not hesitate to institute legal proceedings if the two parties are divorced from the same wavelength.
“The article is grotesquely inaccurate in its entirety. It is false that Metbank has not repaid US$20million in TB’s as ruled by the High Court and it is equally false that a writ to attach property has been issued against the bank.
“The headline and the contents of the story are astounding and defamatory to us as an institution and may cause distress and concern to our valued clients and business partners if left uncorrected.
“We demand an immediate and total retraction and that the retraction be given equal prominence in your newspaper. In the event that we are unable to negotiate a satisfactory rectification of the serious misinterpretation of your article, we will be left with no choice but to seek appropriate recourse that protects the reputation of our clients and business,” further reads the letter.
The alleged impasse between Metbank and NSSA was noted in an audit report conducted by BDO ZImbabwe Auditors on instructions of Auditor General Mildred Chiri who deemed the TBs transaction an unwise investment the pensions authority.
In an effort to avoid undue vilification, Metbank stated the blow by blow details pertaining to the TBs deal that is under scrutiny.
On Tuesday, Housing Corporation chairman and cigarette manufacturer Adam Molai also queried on submissions noted in the NSSA audit report which he described as ‘not factual’ in regards a purported housing scheme contract that he is said to have signed but failed to deliver.
Zim Morning Post publish hereunder the full details of the NSSA/Metbank agreement as stated in a letter addressed to Herald acting editor Tichaona Zindoga and chief executive Pikirayi Deketeke.
NSSA/Metbank TBs deal unpacked
1. In 2017 NSSA and Metbank entered into an agreement where in exchange for an agreed consideration, NSSA gave Metbank Treasury Bills (TB’s) with a face value of $20million for use for its third party borrowings. Treasury bills are considered among the safest investments. The facility held by Metbank was a performing asset and when it came to an end in December 2017 Metbank paid all the attendant fees and returned the TBs. It performed so well that as a result the facility was renewed on the 18th of December 2017 for a further 6 months through a Term Sheet which had a clause that it would be replaced by a subsequent agreement which would govern the rights and obligations of the parties in respect of the TBs. The facility was extended on the basis of a further consideration which Metbank duly paid.
2. At the end of the six-month period specified in the term sheet a dispute arose over the release of the TBs. Metbank refused to return the TB’s because NSSA had failed to avail the agreement which was meant to replace the term sheet as agreed between the parties. This was despite the fact that the facility was performing and Metbank had honored all of its obligations to NSSA. Whilst the parties were still in negotiations regarding the dispute, NSSA went to court seeking the return of the TBs on the basis of the term sheet. Metbank opposed the relief sought on the grounds that the term sheet did not constitute an agreement but was merely a precursor meant to precede a substantive agreement between the parties.
3. For Metbank, the issue was that the TBs should only be released after an agreement had been entered into and only in terms of what that agreement would have provided for.
4. Both NSSA and Metbank were made aware of the judgement on 22nd of July 2019. Prior to receiving this judgement, Metbank of its own volition, wrote to NSSA on the 19th of July (letter attached) offering to transfer the TBs to them.
5. NSSA indicated that they needed time to consult with their lawyers and after doing so, they finally accepted a full transfer of the TB’s back to them on the 24th of July 2019.
6. A perusal of Justice Mathonsi’s judgement which is a public record, will show that he largely dealt with what constituted an agreement and all the other issues brought to light in social media were peripheral issues which were a meniscal part of the judgement. The judge eventually found that the term sheet was an agreement.
7. Attached is a proof of payment which shows that Metbank processed the return of the TBs to NSSA on the 24th of July 2019, in full compliance and co-operation with the court’s ruling. We further paid the interest and legal fees as directed by the court. Zim Morning Post