POLICE in Lusaka have arrested Registrar of Pensions and Insurance Authority (PIA) Christopher Mapani, Deputy Registrar Insurance Titus Nkhwale and Manager Compliance and Insurance Nicholas Mbuya on two counts of Abuse of Authority of Office.
In a statement, Tuesday, police public relations officer Esther Katongo stated that in the first count, the trio were alleged to have approved the appointment of Tobias Milambo as CEO of Ultimate Insurance in an unlawful manner.
“In count one, It is alleged that the trio jointly and whilst acting together abused their authority of office by approving the appointment of Tobias Milambo as chief executive officer of Ultimate Insurance Company Ltd, contrary to section 26 (3) (4) (c) and (5) of the Insurance Act No. 27 of 1997 of the laws of Zambia. In count two, the trio are alleged to have jointly and whilst acting together abused their authority of office and issued a 2020 Insurer’s general licence to Ultimate Insurance Company Ltd, contrary to section 11 (2) (a) and Section 41 of the Insurance Act No. 27 of 1997 as read together with the provisions of Insurance Regulations 2015,” stated Katongo.
She further disclosed that the accused were detained in police custody by press time.
But in a statement, Mapani categorically denied all fraud allegations, but revealed that there were some issues in the governance structure of Ultimate Insurance Limited after an investigation was undertaken by the Authority.
“The Authority categorically denies any fraud or criminal conduct in the renewal of Ultimate Insurance Limited 2020 license. Like any other insurer licensed by the Authority, Ultimate Insurance Limited applied for the renewal of the 2020 license and upon consideration of the set requirements, the license was issued. However, as the public is already aware, the Zambia Police Service is investigating the matter, including whether there has been any wrongdoing on the part of the Authority in the renewal of the 2020 license. The Authority welcomes the investigations and has been fully cooperating with the police.
“Since becoming aware of the disputes between the shareholders of Ultimate Insurance Limited following my appointment in October, 2019, the Authority’s focus has been twofold: protecting the interests of policyholders; and attempting to resolve the issues in dispute to the extent possible, having regard to the fact that they are in court and, therefore, potentially contemptuous. With regards to protection of policyholders, the Authority has been closely monitoring the company’s affairs. To this end, the Authority recently concluded an inspection of the company to assess its financial soundness, among other issues. The inspection revealed that although the company remains financially sound, there were some gaps in the governance structure. Directives have since been issued to the company to address these lapses. The Authority will continue to closely monitor the company,” stated Mapani.
“As regards resolution of the disputes, the public may wish to note that, in an attempt to foster speedy resolution of the disputes through an out-of-court settlement, the Authority convened a meeting of the parties in November, 2019, following which the parties were asked to propose terms under which they would agree to settle the matter. This effort nonetheless proved unsuccessful. It was then decided to deal with the question as to whether the properties that the two shareholders had transferred to the company as payment for shares were inflated, as alleged, as it does not seem to be one of the issues the courts are required to adjudicate upon.
“Having concluded the investigation, the Authority, on Monday 23rd March, 2020, invoked the provisions of section 40 (2) of the Insurance Act and demanded that a fresh valuation of the properties be undertaken by an independent valuer. Consequently, the two shareholders were invited to come and discuss the modalities of appointing a valuator. But as the public has come to know, the meeting never took place. Instead, officials from Marshlands Consortium were arrested at the Authority’s premises.”