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Top Banker Sets Record Straight

Following the Lesotho Times article published last week, titled ‘DCEO INVESTIGATES FORMER BANK CHIEF FOR ALLEGED CORRUPTION’, I, Mpho Vumbukani have sought the right of reply in order to set the record straight. This becomes important given that Lesotho Times published the article without approaching me to get my views on these unfounded allegations.

First and foremost, the article presented false allegations, which are clearly intended to tarnish my good reputation. The transaction relating to the property in question, that was entered into between myself and the bank was clearly above board. There is documentary proof to this effect. Secondly, I have never had any personal transactions with a foreign broker or received any bribes as purported in the article.

This therefore begs the question as to who is behind this story which amongst others, narrates a property sale transaction which occurred seven years ago. Why is this negative narrative against me being pushed now?

State institutions such as the DCEO should therefore professionally engage me when there are genuine matters to be investigated. In this case, I can sense some abuse of state institutions and the media by some unknown forces. As a banker myself, I am aware that any bank would avoid commenting on internal client issues or transactions to the media and I personally would not like to engage on these issues through the media. However, having been pushed to this corner, I found it prudent to explain myself and challenge these false corruption allegations which were published last week.

When I joined Standard Lesotho Bank in 2011, the bank had already embarked upon selling some of the properties which were deemed excess to its requirements. Some of these properties were sold to staff members and the general public even before I joined the bank. It is only in 2012 when I expressed interest to my superiors to purchase the property referred to in the article. I followed the required processes and got approvals from both the Standard Lesotho Bank Board of Directors and the relevant

Standard Bank group executives to purchase the property. It is mind boggling that I can buy a property that the Bank is selling for more than M 3 million in terms of its valuation then and duly pay the bank and that is deemed corruption.

This article published last week further talks about the bank’s procurement policy of 2018, which it is claimed that I contravened. How could I purchase a property in 2012 and be rendered to have contravened the 2018 policy? It is indeed not true that the bank’s policies were disregarded.

I should also clarify that the sale and deed of transfer of the property was effected in 2012. The Bank then approached me to enter into a separate tenancy agreement with them in January 2013 after an expatriate employee requested to stay in that property after his contract extension. Relevant authorities within the Standard Bank Group approved the tenancy agreement and limited it to the tenure of the expatriate employee who had made this specific request to stay in this property. This expatriate employee could have been relocated to other bank houses which were vacant then and are still vacant now, but he requested to stay at House No 1 and the bank facilitated that.

The decisions relating to his accommodation were not made by myself as the chief executive then but by my superiors within the Standard Bank Group.

I was very much surprised to learn from last week’s article that the DCEO is investigating me. To date, nobody from the DCEO has ever approached me regarding the alleged investigation. I find it very unprofessional that an investigation can be undertaken and even confirmed to the media without me being approached to give my side of the story. I have all the documents that relate to the purchase of

House No 1 which I can provide to the DCEO as and when required. Even the bank leadership can be approached to provide their documents regarding this transaction. One wonders as to who is the complainant on this matter who does not want to come to the open but hides behind State institutions.

Since when has the DCEO been an investigator of the bank’s internal policies and matters?

I have also noted with concern allegations against me about bribes from a foreign broker. I have never had any personal transactions with either brokers or farmers. My only interactions with them have been in my official capacity as the bank’s chief executive whereby I was simply dealing with them as Bank clients. All payments or transfers were handled by their respective Relationship Managers in Business Banking.

As the chief executive, one does not handle client’s payments at all, so the allegations that I delayed payments from being processed to farmers are baseless and false. The bank’s management can be contacted if need be to clarify how payments are processed and explain what caused the delays.

I should explain that by virtue of my role as the chief executive then, I also led the bank’s team in the presentations made and meetings held with both cabinet sub-committee and parliament sub-committee on wool and mohair. This I performed officially as the chief executive of Standard Lesotho Bank.

I therefore find it odd that the wool and mohair issues have been heaped around me and false allegations thrown at me as a person. I kindly appeal that the nation should not be misled or misinformed about the payments to wool and mohair farmers. The intention may have been to make me a scape goat for the policy failures arising from the 2018 wool and mohair regulations which

Parliament has recently recommended that they ought to be repealed given the damage they have caused to the sector.

In conclusion, I should emphasize that I have served my country with integrity over the years that I had the privilege to lead in the financial sector and I shall not allow people with bad intentions to destroy my reputation with unfounded allegations. As a law abiding citizen, I am willing to be subjected to proper investigation by the authorities. However, I vehemently challenge abuse of institutions by people with ill intentions to drive personal vendettas. Jealousy, greed and abuse of power and authority will destroy this great nation if left unattended.

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Lesotho Times

Lesotho's widely read newspaper, published every Thursday and distributed throughout the country and in some parts of South Africa. Contact us today: News: editor@lestimes.co.ls Advertising: marketing@lestimes.co.ls Telephone: +266 2231 5356

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