AS the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe intensifies its financial services sector clean-up, another asset management firm has closed shop after failing to pay investors and clients about $2 billion.
Interlink Asset Management – which had invested $500 million in the collapsed ENG Capital Asset Management – closed down on March 19 after the police fraud squad swooped on its office and seized computers.
The raid came two weeks after its acting chief executive and managing director Francis Jani fled the country to the United Kingdom with his family.
Other Interlink directors were also said to have run away, leaving investors and workers stranded.
Sources said Jani had promised to pay investors on April 15 knowing full well that by then he would be gone. He had claimed that his computer company, Data Resources Integrators, would pay Interlink creditors.
“Jani left the country on March 3 with his wife Gladness Gotora, who was also a director in the company, and their child,” a source said. “This was after he had realised that the company could no longer pay investors and clients.”
Sources said a local travel agency, Direct Travel, processed Jani’s travel documents. However, Direct Travel managing director Ishmael Macheka yesterday said although Jani used to arrange his trips with his company, this time he did not.
“I was surprised to hear he was in the UK. He used to arrange his travels with us but this time he did not come to us,” he said.
It is said Interlink – which dealt with asset management, micro-finance and unit trusts – held an offshore account in the UK where it collected money from locals working abroad and paid recipients at home using investors’ funds.
The foreign currency collected remained stashed abroad while creating a huge financial hole for the company locally.
“They transferred a lot of investors’ money to the people who deposited forex in London while they did not replace that money,” a source said.
“That resulted in them being unable to meet local claims from investors. This was worsened by the fact that they had invested $500 million in ENG.”
Sources said police were still trying to recover Interlink’s assets and those of its directors. Apart from computers, sources said so far police had seized cars from Data Resources Integrators that belonged to Jani and were expected to take his house in Ruwa. Some of the assets have not yet been identified.
It is said some of the assets, including a Toyota Vista, remained with friends. Some of the cars such as a Mitsubishi Pajero and Mercedes Benz had already been sold.