GOVERNMENT has constituted a commission of inquiry to investigate the US$8.25 million (about K42 billion) sale of the Zambia National Commercial Bank (ZANACO) to Rabobank of the Netherlands.
In 2006, the Government sold 49 per cent shares in Zanaco to Rabobank after protracted negotiations.
As part of the sale and purchase agreement, Rabobank took over management rights of Zanaco while the Government retained its representation in the bank at board level which included three members from Rabobank, two Government representatives and one representative appointed by board members.
The transaction was conducted by the MMD government under late president Levy Mwanawasa.
Meanwhile, Zanaco Managing Director, Martyn Schouten, says the bank would be readily available to help the commission throughout the process and advised customers that operations would remain unaffected during the period of enquiry.
Mr Schouten said the bank acknowledged the announcement of the formation of a commission of inquiry pertaining to the sale of the bank to Rabobank of the Netherlands in 2006.
“Zanaco wishes to confirm its full cooperation throughout this enquiry to assist in offering a transparent and professional outcome,” Mr Schouten said.
Justice Minister Sebastian Zulu confirmed that President Sata had directed him to appoint a team of officials from the Ministry of Justice and experts from the private sector to investigate what transpired during the sale and how the resources were used.
Mr Zulu said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that the commission, which he would chair, would commence sittings next month.
“We are putting together a team of experts who will include auditors, prosecutors, bankers and consultants because we want to do a good job,” Mr Zulu said.
The minister said during investigations, transactions that would suggest the prevalence of fraud would be handed over to the security wings.
He said prominent politicians who were influential during the sale of the bank would be summoned to give evidence.
The secretariat of the commission had been set up at the Mulungushi International Conference in Lusaka and that the programme of the sittings was still being prepared.
Zanaco’s 49 per cent shares were transferred to Rabo Financial Institutions Development, (RFID) which is a subsidiary of Rabobank.
Mr Zulu said there would be no malice in the conduct of the inquiry and was not targeted at former Government officials who served in the previous Government.
He said he would use his experience as a prosecutor to engage people who were directly involved in the sale and ensure appropriate action was taken.