|MIPF saga takes new twist|
|Wednesday, 13 June 2012 20:59|
A POTENTIALY bruising wrangle is brewing between the Mining Industry Pension Fund board of trustees and its principal officer after the former made startling allegations of fraud and maladministration against the latter. The MIPF board was responding to a report on an investigation conducted by MIPF in March this year on its operations, which concluded that its chairman, Mr James Maposa, be fired for incompetence.
The board, which manages a US$123 million fund, queried the impartiality of the probe, claiming it was not given an opportunity to respond.
In fact, the board accused the principal officer, Mr Tendayi Kanjanda, of masterminding the investigation to get the chairman relieved of his duties so that his (Mr Kanjanda’s) shortcomings, which have become topical, are kept under wraps.
“The board of trustees and chairman of the fund are concerned that the commission’s examination report appears to have been framed with input from the principal officer who has vested interests in the removal of the board chairman. This is so that his indiscretions, which have become topical are not properly dealt with,” said the MIPF board on Monday.
“For some time now, the board of trustees and chairman had to address a number of issues with the principal officer arising from his obsession with his status and his desire to benefit unfairly from the resource fund,” said the response.
“It seems to us that this investigation has been motivated by the principal officer who has previously committed acts of maladministration and, in some respects, abuse of his office and attempted fraud.”
The board alleges that Mr Kanjanda in July 2009 wanted money to buy himself a Mercedes-Benz vehicle for about US$285 000 at a time the fund was in financial distress.
It is alleged that his proposal was rejected by the chairman and the principal officer was aggrieved and made it an issue.
He is also alleged to have violated the fund’s motor vehicle policy, after buying, under the fund’s vehicle loan scheme, a car older than 10 years.
According to the board, the car was bought for US$9 000 but Mr Kanjanda is alleged to have misrepresented that it had cost about US$25 000.
MIPF said this was tantamount to fraud. When called to account, the principal officer allegedly tried to inflate the purchase price by adding the costs of travelling, food, repairs, hotel bills and installation of an expensive music system.
“When confronted with the reality of the matter and proof of his dishonesty, he withdrew the loan allocation altogether,” said the board.
Mr Kanjanda also allegedly made an unsecured investment with no written agreement, in which an amount of US$500 000 was placed with a financial institution.
The matter became the subject of a forensic audit.
It is further alleged that there are concerns over costs of the fund’s building repairs where over US$1 million has already been used, but not properly accounted for.
Mr Kanjanda is alleged to have resisted auditing the expenditure “while at the same time seeking increased budget for repairs”.
On the manner in which the investigation was conducted, the board raised concern, saying “the commission appears to have allowed itself to be used by (Mr Kanjanda) in this way”.
The board said the report is “unsigned and unattributed”, raising concern over its authenticity.
While the IPEC report is classified as “preliminary”, the board said the resolutions contained in the document appear to be final in their nature.
“We have considerable difficulty in understanding how it is that conclusions so far-reaching and directives so drastic and with final effect can be arrived at without those affected being given a hearing,” said the board.
“In our view, this inter alia breaches the fundamental right to be heard and undermines the conclusion reached in the report.
“We are concerned too that the contents of the report and criticisms of the board and chairman of the fund mirror the complaints that have been raised in the past by the principal officer and even mimic some of the language used by him.”
On the investigation outcome, the board denied failing to convene meetings.
Last year, five meetings were reportedly convened. In respect of 2012, three meetings were structured.
The first meeting was aborted because the newly appointed trustees were to be confirmed by the National Employment Council.
MIPF said the allegation that the board led by Mr Maposa was having too much influence was “untrue” as his job sought to protect the fund from “the predatory activities of the principal officer.”
The board made all decisions in relation to operations which received approval from respective committees.
The board said Mr Maposa was appointed as a representative of Anglo American Corp’s Unki Mine.
Unki Mine is the fourth largest contributor to the fund.
The IPEC report claimed that Mr Maposa was representing SMC (Pvt) Limited, which is not remitting contributions. With regards to compensation of trustees, the board said they were entitled to the remuneration approved by the National Employment Council.
Mr Kanjanda yesterday dismissed the MIPF board of trustees report claiming he had evidence to prove “otherwise”.
“I have evidence on each and every allegation they have made against me . . . all they are saying is not true,” said Mr Kanjanda.