Senior Court Reporter
FINANCE Minister Tendai Biti has dismissed an appeal by Bethel Trust, in which it was challenging the decision by the Reserve Bank compelling the firm to relinquish 36 percent of its shareholding in Renaissance Merchant Bank
Bethel Trust is owned by banker Mr Patterson Timba. Bethel Trust and Mr Timba own a combined 46 percent shareholding in the bank.
They are perceived to be one and the same entity. However, Bethel Trust’s lawyers Muza and Nyapadi said they will file an appeal at the Administrative Court.
The lawyers argued that the minister had failed to address their concerns and that they will approach the court on appeal.
The decision for Bethel Trust to relinquish shareholding was made following an investigation that exposed a malady of unacceptable corporate practices in RMB last year.
On the strength of the report, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono issued a corrective order to the bank.
The corrective order placed RMB under recuperative curatorship and saw the appointment of Mr Reggie Saruchera as the curator.
Bethel Trust was ordered to reduce its shareholding from 46 percent to 10 percent. Bethel Trust filed an appeal against the shareholding decision to Minister Biti.
In a judgment availed yesterday, Minister Biti dismissed the appeal on the basis that it was fatal.
“I would therefore dismiss this appeal purely on the defectiveness of the notice of appeal alone.
“Further, I would also hold that this appeal was filed out of time and that no application for condonation has been made,” he ruled.
On the merits Minister Biti found that Bethel Trust was accorded the right to be heard.
He noted that Mr Timba was extensively consulted before the corrective order was issued.
It was also the minister’s finding that the application had been overtaken by events.
In the same judgment Minister Biti took a swipe at some banking institutions that were abusing depositor’s money.
“Unfortunately, the happenings at RMB and indeed at few other banking institutions reflect that the country now has a very small clique of highway mafia that has no respect of public deposits, that does not understand the foundation and ethos of banking practice and mostly that does not appreciate that banking is a privilege.
“It is self-evident that there is an urgent need for financial sector reform that will fundamentally re-look at our licensing, oversight and corporate governance regime,” said Minister Biti.
The reform, he said, would prevent the small breed of predatory bankers from cannibalizing the long-standing confidence, buoyancy and health of the country’s banking system.
Minister Biti added that the banks were betraying the trust bestowed on them by the clients.