In September 2018 the Central Bank of eSwatini (CBE) then Governor, Majozi Sithole, gave Farmers Bank a commercial banking license rather controversially.

 He then informed the eSwatini Bankers Association of this development to formalise the process. Two years later the Central Bank, in exercising of the powers bestowed upon it by Section 16 of the Financial Institutions Act, 2005, revoked the commercial banking license issued to Farmers Bank.

The decision of the Bank followed a due enquiry as outlined by Section 16 of the FIA, 2005. Who is the man behind Farmers Bank? The man behind the bank is one Jean Pierre Najib Asfar aka John N Asfar. Little was known about the man at the early stages of the bank application process.

Now known as John Peter Asfar— 'JP' for short—skipped out of Canada in 2011 in the face of being sued by Creditors for over CAD 60 million in debts about over a dozen failed hotel properties. He is well known to the Canadian Courts.

In one of the media reports about Michael Murrell, a debt collector, is quoted as saying "Good luck trying to collect the money unless you get it up front from him(sic) Asfar" Before he left Canada, Asfar was sued by banks and mortgage companies and all his assets sold off by liquidators in Bankruptcy cases.

This information does not need any investigative skills as it is readily available on the internet. You just need to know where to look. Fast forward a few years later and Asfar resurfaces in eSwatini now as 'John Peter Asfar' with a Swazi passport as of 2021.

Why a Swazi passport when his Canadian passport was cancelled due to court cases over unpaid child support remains a mystery. Asfar faces arrest and jail time if he returns to his native Canada yet here he is here wanting to run an entire bank. With the experience of the Ecsponent saga, where Millions of emalangeni were lost at the hands of unscrupulous so called foreign business partners, the country ought to be extraordinarily careful when dealing with public funds.

Farmers Bank´s John Asfar

In fact, many are asking, exactly how did the country get entangled with such controversial characters like Asfar? You do not have to be a rocket scientist to know that Asfar and his Farmers Bank ideas is a commercial enterprise hatched in hell. This is because Asfar is bankrupt and therefore cannot be a shareholder and director of any company anywhere in the world, at least if his previous records in his native country are anything to go by.

So while Asfar was promising his missing billions to eSwatini, he was promising the very same 2.5 billion USD to Zimbabwe!!!! The difference of course is that Zimbabwe said 'show us the money' before issuing the banking license. The License process was subsequently cancelled by the Zimbabwean Reserve Bank when the missing billions did not appear! Again this information readily available on the internet.

But credit must be given to the Central Bank for how they have handled the license issue despite the undue pressure they face. They have raised concerns over where the money to run Farmers Bank will come from. The Central Bank of eSwatini has become more frustrated by Farmers Bank not opening due to lack of proper systems and vague assurances of working capital staff have left and threatened to sue Farmers Bank only to be told they don't work for Farmers Bank, but another entity controlled by Asfar.

Asfar even misled the Central Bank about providing a personal balance sheet showing USD2.5 billion coming from Sun Life Canada. To this day, Asfar continues to dangle the carrot of his billions. However, his claim to have 2.5 Billion USD claims against Sun Life are a fantasy. The Canadian Supreme Court threw the case out:

List of cases Asfer is facing in Canada

In Asfar v. Sun Life, Justice Nakatsuru of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice granted summary judgment in favour of the defendant and dismissed the Asfar claim on the basis that he discovered that they had a claim against the defendant nearly 10 years before commencing their action. In particular, the court considered the fact that the Asfter threatened the defendant with a class action and therefore understood that they had potentially suffered loss or damage at the hands of the defendant.

The plaintiffs, Jean-Pierre Asfar and Equity Cheque Card Corporation Ltd. (ECCC) commenced an action in April of 2018 against Sun Life for a host of issues relating to five mortgages by Sun Life, the last of which was discharged in 2006. In the Statement of Claim, the plaintiffs attacked the various aspects of the mortgage process, the conditions of the mortgage, the fees and interest charged, and the profits made by Sun Life.

The plaintiffs claimed them to be fraudulent, forged, deceitful, and illegal. In response, Sun Life moved to have the plaintiffs' action dismissed, on the basis that the action was frivolous, vexatious and an abuse of process. Sun Life also moved for summary judgment on the ground that the plaintiffs' claims were statute-barred.

Justice Nakatsuru was not satisfied that the plaintiffs' claim ought to be dismissed because the action was frivolous, vexatious and an abuse of process. Although the Court noted that the plaintiffs threatened to start a class action against Sun Life and even went so far as to publish an alleged libellous Class Action Notice in the Globe and Mail newspaper, the Court found it more appropriate to dispose of the plaintiffs' action by granting summary judgment in favour of the defendants.

Court records in the possession of The Bridge show that Asfar was sequestration in Canada and declared bankrupt yet he is running a bank in the country. A Central Bank investigation also was not flattering of the processes leading to the granting of the process or the bank's financial viability.

The Bridge contacted the Farmers Bank for a comment and their offices couldn't help us get to Asfar. We again called this morning without success. This story will be updated with his comments as soon as he is available to speak to us.