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Biti complains of ‘bank heist’ as Tagwirei acquires ZB Bank

FOEMER Finance Minister Tendai Biti has described as a ‘bank heist’, businessman Kuda Tagwirei’s reported acquisition of ZB Bank and becoming a major shareholder against the provisions of the Banking Act.

Tagwirei is a commodities businessman with extensive interests in the energy sector. He is founder and chief executive of Sakunda Holdings.

However, reports published Monday indicated that 57 million ZB Bank shares, worth over $1 billion, were traded on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) that same day in the morning.

The shares were formerly held by the National Social Security Authority (NSSA).

Biti described the deal as a bank heist as Tagwirei had acquired the ZB Bank’s shares against the provisions of the Banking Act, which outlaws multiple bank ownership.

“This a bank heist. Kuda Tagwirei acquired a major bank in 2019 through purchase of government shareholding in that bank. Now he has acquired ZB Bank against clear provisions of Banking Act against multiple bank ownership. Now target is @FirstMutualHold. Unprecedented looting,” Biti, the MDC Alliance Vice President and Harare East MP claimed.

Last year, Tagwirei acquired stake worth 30 % in the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) and the latest acquisition solidifies the tycoon’s footprints in the financial sector.

One Hamu Ndoro accused Tagwirei of controlling the nerve system of the country’s means of production, and exposing the country to the risk of manipulation from the business tycoon.

“The systematic risk from these acquisitions is now too glaring to ignore. Tagwirei is now owning a significant chunk of our financial services sector. If Tagwirei coughs, it’s chaos for the financial services industry,” he said.

In August this year, Tagwirei was placed on the US targeted sanctions list, igniting protests from Zanu PF aligned politicians, supporters, war veterans and farmers who singled out Biti for allegedly inviting the diplomatic action.

In Parliament, Biti chairs the Public Accounts Committee and has demanded that Tagwirei and his Sakunda Holdings account for billions worth of taxpayers’ money funnelled through the businessman’s companies for the opaque Command Agriculture programme.

During parliamentary hearings since last year, it emerged US$3 billion was unaccounted for by the agriculture ministry as reported by the Auditor General while Sakunda Holdings was involved in distributing farming inputs and fuel to beneficiaries of the Command Agriculture programme.

The amount was released during the 2017/18 agricultural season.

Placing Tagwirei under the US sanctions list, the Americans said it was for “materially assisting senior Zimbabwean government officials involved in public corruption”.

However, this has invited angry protests directed at Biti. The top MDC Alliance politician remains adamant the Command Agriculture fraud was exposed by the Auditor General Mildred Chiri as opposed to Parliament.

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