Lusaka, 22 February 2018
Status of Saturnia Regna Pension Fund (the Fund)
Joint Statement from African Life Financial Services (Zambia) Limited (Aflife, the Fund Managers) and Benefits Consulting Services Limited (Bencon, the Fund Administrators), collectively the Fund Service Providers.
Aflife and Bencon, the Fund Managers and Fund Administrators respectively of Saturnia Regna Pensions Fund wish to assure members and stakeholders of the Fund that its assets are safe and fully accounted for. Further, the assets are invested in line within the Fund Trustees’ approved policies based on the provisions of the Pension Scheme Regulation Act (PSRA) and the Pensions and Insurance Authority (PIA), the regulator.
Since the inception of the Fund in 1992, international audit firms have audited its accounts annually and its current auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) have given an unqualified audit opinion and certified that the Financial Statements of the Fund as at 31st December 2016 fairly represented the financial position of the Fund.
Owing to press accusations of irregular practices, during 2017 the Fund was also subjected to an independent audit as directed by the Ministry of Finance through the PIA. The independent audit was conducted by KPMG, an international audit firm and the report has been submitted to the Ministry of Finance. The report findings will be tabled for discussion at the Fund Members’ Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Wednesday, 28th February 2018 as arranged under the guidance and authority of the PIA.
It is against this background that the PIA has directed the Fund and Bencon to reconvene the AGM as soon as possible and this decision was made in the best interest of the Fund and its Members. Therefore, Bencon has followed due process and already sent the relevant notices and invitations to all Participating Employers and Members.
It should be noted that the AGM has twice been postponed and the last postponement in 2017 was to allow for an independent audit of the Fund. Further, Bencon wishes to state that the 2017 management accounts have been concluded and are awaiting the appointment of external auditors at the forthcoming AGM, after which the audited financial statements for 2017 will be finalised. The AGM is therefore crucial in normalising the activities of the Fund.
It is important and critical that the AGM, which is the highest body in the governance of the Fund and its Members and Participating Employers receive these reports from the auditors and deliberate on them and consequently make all the necessary resolutions based on the findings. Bencon and Aflife are working to ensure that the AGM is held on schedule and in line with the directive of the PIA and the Fund Trust Deed.
Over the past one year, we have noted publication of unsubstantiated allegations against the Fund and the Service Providers, in the Daily Nation newspaper. Despite our rebuttals against these allegations through our lawyers and through a joint press statement by the two Service Providers in June 2017, this particular newspaper has continued with publication of these allegations. In the recent publications, we have also noted attempts by the Daily Nation Newspaper to discredit the independent audit report that has not yet even been released by the Ministry of Finance.
We also note that most of these articles purport the Fund Trustees as their source but the Saturnia Regna Fund Board of Trustees during August 2017 wrote through their lawyers to the Daily Nation Newspaper and also released a Press Statement denying that they were indeed the source as quoted by this newspaper.
Throughout the subsequent period, the Service Providers have opted to remain silent and let due process be followed as directed by both the parent ministry and the regulatory authorities and not to dignify the unsubstantiated allegations by responding to them. It was important for the independent auditors to carry out their assignment without the undue influence of our comments and responses to the allegations. We have fully cooperated with the relevant parties involved in the exercise as we all believe that such actions are in the best interest of the Members as the ultimate beneficiaries.
The objective of the Service Providers has always been to maintain the stability and growth of the Fund, and to ensure that it operates in line with the provisions of the Trust Deed and those of the Pensions Scheme Regulation Act. We wish to reiterate that all the operations of Saturnia Regna Pension Fund are still under the regulation and oversight of the PIA, as well as other supervisory bodies and that the assets of the Fund and Member records remain safe and sound.
Signed: Geoffrey Musekiwa (Aflife Chief Executive Officer)
Bryson Hamanzuka (Bencon Chief Executive Officer)
For further information contact:
Geoffrey Musekiwa, Chief Executive Officer, African Life Financial Services Zambia Limited (email@example.com) | 0211 254841, ext. 244 | 0965 433168 and;
Bryson Hamanzuka, Chief Executive Officer, Benefits Consulting Services (firstname.lastname@example.org) | 0211 254517, ext. 209 | 0977 791500