THE National Economic Conduct Inspectorate (NECI) is probing Old Mutual and DHL International over the sale of Old Mutual shares valued at US$742 560 which DHL’s employees say belonged to them at the time the financial conglomerate demutualised and listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange in 1999.
This comes after DHL International former employees approached the Commissioner of Insurance and Pensions to intervene and bring clarity to the shares debacle.
Old Mutual was in the period the administrator of the DHL International Pension Fund, which had 10 500 shares in the financial services group.
The shares are said to have been sold by DHL management in 1999 after Old Mutual demutualised, but without the knowledge of the beneficiaries of the pension fund, who also claim they have not received any proceeds from the sale of the shares to date.
Demutualisation is the process through which any member-owned organisation becomes a shareholder-owned company.
The case of the alleged fraudulent sale of the shares was reported to NECI this year, prompting investigations.
Old Mutual confirmed receiving a letter from NECI seeking clarification on how the shares were sold.
In a letter dated January 17 2012, Old Mutual client relations manager Edward Makoni said DHL International management sold the allocated 10 500 shares upon demutualisation and realised US$742 560 from the sale.
According to Makoni, the funds were initially deposited into a unit trust account number 108 807/01 on August 31 1999 and then invested in a money fund account until 2006 when it was later transferred to a guaranteed fund.
“The account was specifically set for DHL pension fund to allow employers to decide what was to be done in line with legislation,” reads part of the letter.
Ex-DHL employees who were supposed to benefit from the shares, however, claim that they have been issued share certificates showing zero value on demutualisation.
In an e-mail to staff on June 15 this year, DHL Central Africa and Indian Ocean MD Hennie Heymans said employee claims regarding proceeds from Old Mutual demutualisation in 1999 were unsubstantiated.
Heymans said management and board of trustees at that time decided to sell the shares and invest the full proceeds back into the pension fund to ensure that all employees received maximum benefit.
“The decision at the time by management and board of trustees was to sell these shares and invest the full proceeds back into the pension fund so as to ensure that all employees get the maximum benefit — a decision that is supported by the current management — including myself.
“This transaction was concluded on the 31st of August 1999 and is accompanied by fully audited statements from Old Mutual. For all intents and purposes the demutualisation value was passed on to all members and all accumulations took into account the proceeds of this transaction,” the e-mail reads.
The case is before the High Court as HC481/12. Old Mutual professed ignorance of the development.