Monday, November 18, 2013

Swazis robbed of E24m- Sharemax

Swazis robbed of E24m

17 November, 2013 07:00:00
By Thembeka Dlamini

The Financial Services Regulatory Authority chief executive officer Sandile Dlamini yesterday stunned Swazis who invested in a product allegedly sold by Isambulo Investments, when he told them that all their savings had disappointed into thin air.
In total, Swazis have lost E24 million of their savings in what appears to be a pyramid scheme.
This happened at a highly charged meeting held at UNISWA, attended by members of the scheme.
Soldiers were the hardest hit by this, as their co-operative had invested E4m of their savings into this scheme, which it was revealed yesterday was inadequately registered.
According to Dlamini, all those who had invested into this scheme would not be getting their money until they took a definitive stand by petitioning for a lawyer to fight their cause.
Representatives from the Central Bank, Hlalawati Savings and Cooperatives (the USDF members); SUFIAW, former SAPPI employees; former SPTC employees; Ludzidzini Indvuna TVMtetwa, Musa Mthethwa (Sylvia Mthethwa’s husband) and other pensioners, attended the meeting yesterday. Dlamini was giving a report into the SHAREMAX issue and how Swazis were duped into investing E24 million in an inadequately registered company. He revealed that the company had no permit to accept deposits nor was it recognised by the Central Bank, nor paid any deposit insurance that could then be used to bail it out in the event it failed to pay its stakeholders. Dlamini further explained that the Central Bank only had money that would be used in helping it and government since there were no deposits by this company made towards the Central Bank, so there was no legal remedy that they could offer since the company had a Swazi cover yet operated in South Africa. He said as a regulator they could not take the company to court, hence it was up to the members to make a collective report to the police and ask the Justice Minister or the prime minister for assistance through a petition to get them a lawyer.
The first people who invested in this company were able to get two to three interest payments thus they were able to believe that the scheme was legitimate. Due to the fact that SHAREMAX operations were stopped after they were banned from collecting deposits by the South African Reserve Bank, their so called investment would not pay out and they would have to wait for 10 years before they could realise any returns. SHAREMAX operated under Isambulo Investments and sold the SHAREMAX insurance as a product. Workers who were retrenched in SAPPI claimed at yesterday’s meeting that representatives of the company were allowed to come to the company premises and pitched a tent of a recognised insurer, in the presence of a Liqoqo member (name withheld) and a Vilakati woman, as well as a director of Isambulo Insurance Brokers.
SHAREMAX was registered in the ministry of commerce, industry and rrade but it was not registered to collect any money. Dlamini said they as FSRA did not know of the involvement of the insurer’s connection with SHAREMAX and it was the first that they had heard of it. Hlalawati Savings and Credit Cooperative Society Limited invested over E4 000 000 in the scheme, thus becoming the single biggest loser.

Indvuna TV Mtetwa disgruntled

Ludzidzini Indvuna, Timothy Velabo Mtetwa, who sat quietly but in an agitated manner, left the meeting a disappointed man.
He did not answer any questions posed to him and kept saying they had been robbed and that he hoped that the petition would help them get they money back.
Meanwhile, the Swaziland Union of Financial and Allied Workers (SUFIAW) invested E100 000 in the pyramid scheme.
Heated SUFIAW Treasurer, Jimson Gwebu minced no words and said the Reserve Bank of South Africa spoilt things for them by exposing SHARMAX since the company had been able to complete 29 other projects using the same operations they had employed in Swaziland and the investors had received their returns.
“So how would their ‘projects’ be completd because the company is no longer allowed to collect money
as capital?” he asked. He said he had been hoping to hear
that they were getting their investment back since the union had deposited E100 000 with the hope of making millions.

Churchill Dlamini invested E150 000

Winnie Dlamini (LaPhakathi) said she had hoped to be given a cheque since her husband, the late Prince Maphevu’s son, Churchill Dlamini was sickly after the failure of SHAREMAX to live up to its promises.
She lamented the fact that her husband had invested over E150 000 and they had never received any interest or any feed back in the last three years. She said when her husband made the choice to invest it was so that they would be able to pay the mortgage on the farm that they bought when her husband retired.
She said they had to sell their car and other possessions just to survive and since they were unable to make the installments each month, she had tried to sell the farm with a four bedroom house in Siteki but there were no buyers.

Regulator warns of pyramid schemes

Sandile Dlamini warned Swazis that if the investment scheme sounds too good to be true by offering very high returns, then they should rest assured that it is indeed too good to be true and should not entertain other members who ask them to join. He noted that Swazis willingly pay out huge sums of money to companies they didn’t know anything about and then later go to the authorities and ask them to come to their rescue once they realised that they have been taken for a ride. He encouraged them to ask the pertinent questions before they take a risk with their hard earned money.

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