By Sifiso Sibandze
At the request of the Minister of Finance, Neal Rijkenberg, the Central Bank of Eswatini (CBE) has launched a full-blown investigation of the Ecsponent collapse.
The CBE Governor Dr Phil Mnisi said on Friday that the Central Bank has already assembled a team of experts who will soon embark on the investigation to establish what led to the collapse of Ecsponent wherein emaSwati lost their hard-earned millions of Emalangeni.
The governor said the CBE board of directors have approved the plan to investigate the scheme’s collapse, stressing that CBE has assembled a technical team and further sought expertise from an external consultant.
“As the banking sector regulatory body, the Central Bank always thrives to ensure financial stability, hence we are interested in finding out what really happened at Ecsponent,” Mnisi said.
The governor also said once the investigation is finished, a report of the findings will be compiled and it will be submitted to the government. About 1500 EmaSwati who invested in Ecsponent Eswatini Limited had their hard-earned funds savings amounting to E340 million transferred to South Africa without their consent and thereafter squandered.
The Ecsponent Eswatini Limited directors reportedly relocated the funds under the guise that they were invested in other companies to increase the individual investors’ returns and dividends.
The company started operating in the country in 2010 and attracted a sizeable number of emaSwati who included retirees, pensioners, civil servants, church groups, and public and private cooperative societies, among others.
Most recently, our sister publication, the Eswatini Financial Times investigations lifted the lid on how Status Capital Building Society, which has been in the headlines over the disappearance of millions from investors is run by the same people behind the infamous Ecsponent Eswatini Limited through which thousands of emaSwati lost over E340 million of their investments.
According to a forensic audit conducted in 2020 by MHMK Group which acquired both Ecsponent Eswatini and Ecsponent South Africa found that in June 2018, GetBucks Eswatini borrowed about E171 million from Ecsponent, of which about E53 million was used to build a loan book in Eswatini and the balance of approximately E118 million was on-lent to their sister company in South Africa, GetBucks South Africa.
Due to the non-servicing of interest and principal, the amount due from GetBucks Eswatini to Ecsponent grew to more than E360 million.
By Sifiso Sibandze