Tamayi leaves Fidelity amid turmoil

HARARE - Fidelity Life Assurance Limited (Fidelity) chairman Lawrence Tamayi has resigned amid serious allegations of corporate governance infractions by the listed insurer’s executive team led by chief executive Simon Chapereka.

The retired banker’s abrupt departure came as another non-executive director and human capital consultant Memory Nguwi also left “on principle” — apparently unwilling to be tainted by the company’s unfolding “scandals”, which sources say mirror those uncovered at the Premier Service Medical Aid Society (Psmas).

A well-placed source who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said Tamayi resigned in frustration after failing to garner board and shareholder support in his quest to deal with numerous acts of governance violations at the company — which have seen Chapereka being sent on forced leave.

“Tamayi and Nguwi resigned last week after facing massive resistance from some board members to take appropriate action and ensure accountability at the institution in line with their fiduciary duty to protect shareholders and policy holders,” the source said.

“Among other allegations, there is the issue of non-performing and interest-free insider loans taken by executives, including Chapereka, and which some... shareholders like the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) did not want to see addressed,” they said.

“So the two resigned as a matter of principle. It is worrying that the people who wanted the right things to be done for the company and its various stakeholders are gone, and the accused managers are still there with the reported support of some shareholders like Nssa.”

Nssa acting general manager Hashmon Matemera, who it’s claimed is one of the shareholder representatives siding with Chapereka, was unavailable for comment yesterday.

With about 27,6 percent of Fidelity, Nssa allegedly mobilised other shareholders, including Zimre Holdings at 20,57 percent, Grimstone Investments with 14 percent, Imara Capital at 12,91 percent and Le Huret Group at seven percent, to push out the two independent directors.

Chapereka, whose phone has gone unanswered since last week, stands accused of, among other transgressions, amassing no less than 12 residential stands at Fidelity’s Manresa and Harare South projects — with the latter scheme meant for low income earners — as well as advancing himself hefty loans, which he has neglected to service adequately.

“Chapereka advanced himself a $300 000 housing loan, which he was supposed to pay over a 10-year period.

“But curiously, he was only paying about $500 every month and meaning that at the end of the payment period he would have only paid back $60 000,” the source said, claiming further that “the company is being fleeced blind”.

The insider also claimed that another non-executive director, Catherine Chitiyo — who has apparently been pushing for a forensic audit into all these issues — has also since been booted out this week.

And in a development which echoes the goings-on at Psmas, Chapereka and other executives stand accused of drawing “board fees and other remuneration for being members of various committees in addition to their monthly salaries”.

So bad was the state of corporate governance at the company that the same executives had allegedly been deriving benefits from a Malawi venture that was spearheaded under the auspices of group expansions.

Shockingly, Chapereka even once recommended the payment of $100 000 — in capitalisation funds for a Sudanese business — in bagfuls of cash after the company failed to send or wire the money through Standard Chartered Bank.

“While all these issues were brought to the entire board’s attention, including at last week’s emergency board meeting, no one appears to have the appetite to pursue them.

“Some board members are even opposed to a forensic audit here and are in favour of a tepid internal investigation,” another insider said.

“For instance, people recommended for an internal process to review all these things when Chapereka once sat on the company’s audit committee. Clearly, this did not augur well for good corporate governance,” the insider added.

“So, you find that even after Tamayi’s exit at the emergency board meeting, the board under Gregory Mataka could not muster the courage to suspend the CEO pending forensics.

“Instead, it sheepishly allowed Chapereka to go away via the annual leave route,” the insider added.

Worse still, it is further claimed that the money which Chapereka and other company bigwigs accessed for the stands had been taken from group subsidiaries, notably the microfinance arm.

“It’s a mess,” the insider added.

 

Comments (8)

This cannot be allowed to go on. Firstly, the policyholders' values pre-dollarization were depleted to some astonishing levels where the banks and insurance companies correctly blamed on the policies of the government. Now the greedy executives are going unchecked. Who can be trusted in Zimbabwe…the government and/or the 'renowned' Financial Sector? The Regulator (IPAC) is such a joke. Should we honestly rely on the press to unearth and force action? But again if you get some directors and shareholders covering up for such fraudulent acts will we ever prosper as a Nation? The action likely to happen is loss of confidence in the sector hence less and less savings from the public. This government insist on indigenisation and the result is this level of looting by senior executives. You do not see such circus happening at foreign owned organisations, examples being Old Mutual, Barclays etc. Old Mutual is well managed and local executives will not be allowed to get away with such nonsense. We need these financial providers, as a nation. The public needs to feel confident. If these allegations are true, which I have no reason to doubt this man Chapereka and his executives who have benefitted from this looting of policyholders' funds must be held accountable.

Petros - 31 December 2015

The shareholders, particularly NSSA owe it to the policyholders to institute forensic audit. From a related report earlier in the month it was reported that employees at Fidelity are just petrified to open their mouths and heads have rolled at the mess of this Chapereka guy. For how long will this continue? Tell us more about the Malawi and Sudan companies, surely how could a CEO of his stature recommend transfer of such amounts in such manner. Did the money ever reach Malawi and or Sudan? How is Fidelity and its policyholders/shareholders benefitting from operations in Malawi and Sudan? We need to know more, please Daily News you have a big story here, leave no stone unturned. Do we have Zimbabwe managers in Malawi and/or Sudan? Get hold of them and get down to the truth. This Chapereka man needs to account for every penny at Fidelity.

Petros - 31 December 2015

Very soon NSSA will be broke just like the government. NSSA is incompetently run and dishing out cash left, right and centre. Pensioners will not be getting anything in the near future. Very sad.

Thicket Dingati - 31 December 2015

I doubt this story is true.CEOs do not give themselves loans.They are approved by a Board policy.Is Tamayi a retired banker? Last time I read he was made redundant first at defunct Interfin and later at collapsed Capital Bank (Formerly Renaissance),where NSSA lost money.I think there is loss of confidence regarding Tamayi ability to steer Fidelity after running two banks that collapsed.The listed shareholders like Imara would not cover up any corrupt wrong doing.

Kufandada - 3 January 2016

directors of companies in Zimbabwe may not be given loans of company money it is illegal. They are jointly and severally responsible for the good running of th business.

citizen - 14 January 2016

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