Saturnia panics

Wed, 14 Feb 2018 07:51:00 +0000

By NATION REPORTER

Government must immediately seize the local and offshore assets of Saturnia Pension Scheme to safeguard the interests of over 34,000 Zambians who subscribe to the scheme, until the status of the entire scheme was settled, Trustees have said.

They have called on investigative wings including the Zambia Revenue Authority to probe how tax free pension contributions from workers were channeled into a private company called Saturnia Regina Pension Trust Limited owned by African Life Financial Services Zambia Limited with 240,000,000 shares, Botswana Insurance Fund Management with 80,000,000 shares, Sanjeev Gupta with 5,000 shares and Munakupya Hantuba with 5,000 shares.

This contradicted a statement made by the Registrar at Pensions and Insurances Authority (PIA) Martin Libinga who yesterday maintained that Saturnia was registered by his authority as a Trust.

The Trustees were further shocked to discover that member’s pension contributions were going into bank accounts belonging to:

-Saturnia Regna Trustees Limited and

– Saturnia Pension Scheme

These two institutions, they said, were not part of the Saturnia Pension Fund and did not understand how banks opened accounts to which contribution were remitted on behalf of the Trust.

Their concern follows revelation that US$40million was externalised to offshore investments without Government and Trustee approval and in less than transparent circumstances.

A search at the Patents and Companies Registration Authority (PACRA) revealed that there is no company called Saturnia Regna Pension Trustees Limited as well as Saturnia Pension Scheme while a further search at the Ministry of Lands also confirmed that there were no Trusts incorporated with such names.

The search however revealed that a number of high value properties that were supposed to belong to the Trust were registered under  “registered Trustees”. The Trustees said that the banks must explain to the nation how they opened bank accounts for companies that were not registered with PACRA.

Records at PACRA revealed that there is a company called Saturnia Regna Pension Trust Limited whose registered office is 74 Independence Avenue which is a property of Saturnia Regna Pension Fund. A check by the Daily Nation at the address drew a blank as the occupants said that they were not aware of the existence of such a company.

“The government should immediately seize the passports of all the people involved in this suspected fraud and get the investigative wings to start serious investigations into the matter.” A trustee said.

When contacted Labour and Social Security Minister Joyce Nonde Simukoko referred the matter to the Minister of Finance who she said was yet to release the results of an audit report he ordered in June 2016.

However, Ms. Simukoko expressed concern over the developments stating that saving money anywhere in the world was based on trust.

“If we do not handle this matter properly, Zambians will lose confidence in pension schemes and that is not good for the Zambian economy,” Ms. Simukoko said. She said that her ministry was following the matter keenly because “we are currently trying to lure the private sector into the pension industry and if this matter is not handled urgently, our marketing efforts will flop.”

The other directors  of the Limited Company who do not  appear to have shares are Doreen Kabunda, Sibanze Simuchoba, Martin MCcathy, Sophie Muntemba and Maxell Tembo.

One of the board members when contacted was surprised that the company which was ordered closed by the PIA in 2008 was still existing. She said that she cannot remember attending any board meetings of Saturnia Regna Pension Trust Limited and that her name was being used in vain.

A further search at PACRA found that there were no records of Board Meetings or resolutions filed by Saturnia Regna Pension Trust Limited. But in September 2016, the Zambia Revenue Authority sent a demand letter for K1,585,316.61 to the company. The Pension Fund Administrators, Benefits Consulting Services Limited, tried to settle the tax liability on behalf of the limited company but they were blocked by the Trustees.

The discovery of the Saturnia Regna Trustees Limited and Saturnia Pension Scheme brings the number of entities mentioned in the unfolding scandal to five. These are Saturnia Regna Trustees Limited, Saturnia Pension Fund, Saturnia Regna Pension Fund, Saturnia Regna Pension Fund Registered Trustees and Saturnia Regna Pension Trust Limited. The elected Trustees are now asking the motive behind the establishment of so many entities and believe that only intervention by the government and a thorough forensic audit would settle their worries and secure the 34,000 members funds.

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