Pensions and Insurance Authority (PIA) says the successful holding of an Annual General Meeting will resolve the issues at Zambia’s largest private pensions scheme; Saturnia Regna Pension Fund.

Recently, News Diggers! reported that the fate of over K2 billion held in trust for contributors is at stake as bickering and fraud allegations at Saturnia Regna Pension Fund take center stake.

Munakupya Hantuba and several other prominent businessmen, including Hakainde Hichilema have been named in a controversial shareholding structure of Africa Life Financial Services, Menel Management Services and Benefits Consulting Services Ltd – companies which are behind the management of the private pension Fund.

The Board of Trustees has been calling for an Annual General Meeting in an attempt to change the Fund managers, but the latter has sought the court’s intervention although unsuccessful.

Fund administrators (Benefits Consulting Services Ltd) rejected the latest proposal for a meeting which was scheduled to take place yesterday, stating that the current Board of Trustees members were no longer recognized by Saturnia.

Saturnia Regna Pension Fund administrators went further to state that a new list of Board Trustee members had been proposed and the candidates were ready for elections.

But the PIA stepped in and mediated a meeting between the trustees and Benefits Consulting on May 26, at which it was resolved that the AGM would be held on July 14.

In a statement released by PIA Communications Manager Doreen Kambanganji-Silungwe today, Registrar of the Pensions and Insurance Authority Martin Libinga said the authority had been following developments at Saturnia Regna and explained its perspective on things.

“Over the last few weeks media articles have been circulating on Saturnia Regna Pension Fund regarding various issues which the Authority brought out during an inspection of the Fund. The report was sent to the Trustees of the fund for implementation of the recommendations from the Authority. With regards to the court cases, the Authority has been actively monitoring the two court matters between the Trustees of the Saturnia Regna Pension Fund and service providers namely Benefits Consulting Services Limited and African Life Fund Services Limited. The first matter was between the Trustees and African Life Financial Services Zambia Limited under cause No 2016/HP/ARB No. 0011 and related to the composition of the Board and contractual services. This matter has since been discontinued. The claim under the second matter is identical to the first court matter except that the action was commenced by Mr Hantuba Munakupya against Saturnia Regna Pension Fund and the Trustees and is under cause No. 2017/HPC/ARB No. 0067. Under this matter the applicant Mr Hantuba had obtained an interim injunction dated 16th February 2017 which rendered it impossible for the scheme and trustees from carrying out any business of the scheme,” Libinga stated.

“Prior to the grant of the said Injunction Order the Fund was scheduled to hold an AGM at which forum new trustees were scheduled to be voted into office but this could not be held on account of the injunction. The injunction was subsequently discharged on the 3rd May 2017 and this has now paved way for the holding of the AGM. In our view the holding of the AGM and election of new Trustees will normalise the composition of the Board of Trustees and attendant matters. To prepare for the AGM the Authority convened a joint meeting between the Trustees and Benefits Consulting Services Limited on the 26th May 2017. During the meeting, the Authority after deliberation directed that the AGM be held on or before the 14th July 2017 and that Trustees whose mandate has expired be allowed to operate until the AGM so as not to create a vacuum between now and the AGM.”

Libinga also explained that off shore investments, which are among the many issues being queried at the fund, were not illegal but the minister’s approval was a requirement.

“Further, the Authority wishes to inform the public that off shore investment of pension funds, which have also been a subject in the media articles, is not illegal but is subject to ministerial approval. All investments are done to enhance value of the members’ accrued benefits via diversification of the investment portifolio with the approval of the Trustees. The Authority further wishes to state that industry is guided by Investment Guidelines and any scheme that does not adhere to the guidelines is dealt with accordingly. The public may wish to know that one of the statutory duties of the Pension and Insurance Authority (PIA) is to ensure that there is stability in the industry. The Authority undertakes inspections of all schemes to establish their financial soundness and compliance to the attendant legislation. From the assessments done so far, the pensions industry is stable and members’ accrued benefits are safe,” said Libinga.

“The Authority will continue to closely monitor Saturnia Regna Pension Fund. Any member of the Fund, or indeed any member of the public, should feel free to seek clarifications on this matter by contacting the Authority.”