Gono freezes Interfin withdrawals

HARARE - Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono has frozen all withdrawals at Interfin Bank Limited (Interfin) as part of efforts to revive the financial institution which is under curatorship.

“In order to preserve the financial standing of the institution, and prevent an uncontrolled withdrawal or removal of funds or assets from the institution, all amounts deposited with or invested with Interfin Bank Limited shall be frozen during this period of curatorship,” Gono said yesterday.

 The latest development comes after the central bank had this week extended the curatorship of Interfin to December 2014 in a bid to conclude plans to shore up the undercapitalised institution as well as recover funds from debtors.

 Interfin, which was last June placed under the management of Peter Bailey of KPMG Chartered Accountants, owes major depositors a combined $80 million in deposits.

 The initial six months’ curatorship was extended last December.

 Gono — who also extended the appointment of Bailey as curator to December next year — said the decision to prolong the bank’s curatorship was necessitated by the prevailing liquidity challenges.

 “The curatorship extension has taken into account developments in the macro-economy that are militating against the injection of new capital prior to the resolution of those macro-economic, social and political imperatives,” he said, adding that these macro issues are matters that go beyond the individual, institutional or shareholder capabilities to resolve in the immediate future.

“Our telescopic view is that a lot of micro issues will be resolved in the medium and not short-term due to the multiplicity of far-reaching macro issues that can only be tackled after a range of major events in the immediate horizon, hence the extension,” said Gono.

Interfin recorded a negative core capital of $92,9 million as at June 2012 and as of December 31, 2011, the bank had insider loans of $2,97 million.

Official figures also showed that as of May 2012, the bank had a total of $36,5 million in unsettled payments.

The bank’s shareholders now face a herculean task to raise more capital following a sharp rise in minimum capital requirements prescribed by the apex bank.

After placing the bank under curatorship, the RBZ increased minimum capital levels for commercial banks to $100 million from $12,5 million through a staggered capitalisation exercise.

 The curator this year indicated that they had plans to retrench 300 employees from the bank.

The bank’s parent company, Interfin Financial Services, was suspended from the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange last year. - John Kachembere

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