METBANK totters on brink of collapse

METBANK is tottering on the brink of collapse with the Bulawayo branch failing to offer basic banking services such as withdrawals, an investigation by Southern Eye Business revealed this week.

BATANAI MUTASA
OWN CORRESPONDENT

The struggling financial institution whose operations were affected by the liquidity crunch is struggling to meet capitalisation requirements set by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and some depositors went through the festive season without accessing their money.

In January 2014, MetBank announced it had secured a $50 million line of credit from a Mauritius-based financial firm Loita Capital Partner International but a year later, reports say it is still struggling to deliver its mandate.

Southern Eye Business visited the banks’ branch at the corner of 9th Avenue and Robert Mugabe Way, and was greeted by an empty banking hall manned by a security detail with no office personnel.

Asked why there was no one in the bank, the security guard said there was no cash for withdrawals and he could not explain further because he was not privy to the core operations of the institution.

A bank employee, who cannot be named for professional reasons, however, said there was a possibility customers would be able to withdraw cash at the end of the month.

“We have been managing pay-out salaries every month, but for other deposits, the cash comes now and then, so we record your details when you visit us and call you to withdraw when we receive some cash.

“But it has been a while since we last received money. There is also a challenge with inter-bank transfers which we have not been doing, so the only way to access your money will be to wait for our call,” the employee said.

Most banks have been struggling to meet capitalisation requirements and are experiencing similar service delivery challenges.

Allied Bank, which was bought by Transport minister Obert Mpofu’s family business in 2012, surrendered its operating licence this month and is now on course for liquidation.

The bank turned away customers in December 2014 informing them that there was no cash. Another bank that has been facing solvency challenges, AfrAsia (formerly Kingdom), resorted to limiting withdrawal amounts to ensure clients accessed available cash.

Both institutions stopped interbank transfers.

The RBZ has already indicated that, in 2015, it will liquidate Allied and Interfin banks, which failed to recover from the liquidity turmoil they were facing, raising fear MetBank could face the same fate. Efforts to get comment from MetBank management were fruitless as they had not responded to questions sent via e-mail.

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