Muponda demands return of Century Bank

HARARE The directors of ENG Capital have demanded that Century Bank be returned to them as the rightful owners. ENG is set to resume its operations in Zimbabwe after the High Court recently cleared the company of any misdoings, following spurious allegations in 2003-4 that it was under-capitalised.

The ruling on July 15, 2010 under case number HC 6086/09 states that -“ENG companies and Directors satisfactorily liquidated all debts past, present and future accumulated by the company”. Managing Director Gilbert Muponda told The Zimbabwean this week that the judgement confirmed that his company had been targeted by greedy individuals who wanted to grab its assets, in particular Century Bank which was renamed CFX Bank.

This bank must be returned to ENG as other banks such as Trust, Barbican, Royal Bank have been returned to their original owners. There is no reason whatsoever why Century/CFX Bank shouldnt be returned to me and ENG, Muponda said. The High Court judgement shows that ENG was solvent and financially solid, yet Muponda remains a specified person. He plans to re-launch the company as soon as possible, but it will have to operate outside Zimbabwe until he is free to return.

The bank will not take deposits from the public. It will be focused on investment banking and activities such as research, mergers and acquisitions and private equity. Our feeling is that Zimbabwe has enough traditional banks but it does not have a proper investment bank in the mould of Goldman Sachs and Black Stone, he explained.

There are no meaningful deposits in the Zimbabwe market so most banks struggle to get by because of mis-aligned cost structures and over-staffing. Our model will focus on helping small companies get listed or raise capital instead of focusing on mobilizing deposits that are not there. Zimbabwes banking sector as it is right now can only be saved by the re-introduction of the Zimbabwe dollar maybe pegged to the RAND or US$. With most people earning $200 per month and spending all of it there are no savings – and therefore nothing for the banks to manage.

Muponda has been extremely vocal from exile in highlighting the abuses of the Mugabe regime. But with the High Court now having confirmed his innocence, he believes it is time to work towards re-branding Zimbabwe as a financial powerhouse in the Southern African Development Community region.

I am not a politician and I am not interested in politics but at times politicians mess things up so much that keeping silent would be a crime. A false impression was created that ENG was a shelf company that owned nothing but cars. In fact, it owned many assets including Century/CFX Bank, which I want returned, he said. Among the allegations against him was that Muponda had abused depositors funds on joyrides to watch soccer matches in London.

These were part of the smokescreen used to justify the blatant looting and asset stripping of ENG, including the callous misappropriation of our bank, Century/CFX by politically connected individuals. I have never watched a match in the UK. My favourite soccer team is Dembare, said Muponda. Before founding ENG he was the youngest Head of Corporate Finance in the Zimbabwe market. At TN Financial Services he was the youngest director of any financial institution and at both institutions he owned equity.

I was a self-made entrepreneur. My only mistake was that I did not have a political Godfather to look after me. So I was thrown to the wolves a vicious system and greedy individuals who would have stopped at nothing in their quest to strip me of my wealth and use me as a scapegoat and reason for the collapse of the financial system. Before and after ENG how many other financial institutions collapsed? How many other innocent business persons were incarcerated?

I am just delighted that my good name has finally been cleared, he said.

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