“DON’T TALK TO ME; TALK TO MASISI”

GABORONE 10 December 2019, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi briefs the media in Gaborone on his arrival from the 9th Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States Summit of Heads of State in Kenya. Vice President Slumber Tsogwane , minister Kabo Mowwaeng, Minister Kagiso Mmusi were present among the others during the briefing. (Pic:MONIRUL BHUIYAN/Press Photo)

Tenacious liquidator Kopanang Thekiso has been stonewalled in his attempts to get answers from Sadique Kebonang regarding a donation from CMB to then Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s campaign for the chairmanship of Domkrag in 2017. Whether he is being evasive or not, Kebonang is proving hard to pin down because he says he won’t say a word the without “explicit authority and consent” of the President  

Former minerals minister Sadique Kebonang has told the new Capital Management Botswana (CMB) liquidator, Kopanang Thekiso, that he cannot account for the financial affairs of the embattled asset management firm, The Business Weekly & Review has established.

Since coming into the picture, the new CMB liquidator has sought to track all funds from the disgraced firm in an effort to recover the lost funds.

This publication is in possession of a letter that Kebonang addressed to the liquidator on 28 August 2019 by which he replied to one from the liquidator dated19 August 2019 that Kebonang says he received on 26 August.

He wrote: “Ordinarily I would have been happy to provide the information you have sought if it hadn’t been for the following facts: I have never been a member, director or shareholder in CMB; I have also not managed any money belonging to CMB.” 

Kebonang wrote further that only directors of CMB should be asked about the financial affairs of CMB. “Only they and not I are accountable for the conduct of the financial affairs of CMB,” he asserted.

The liquidator had sought information regarding CMB funds purportedly donated to then Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi for use in his campaign for chairmanship of the Botswana Democratic Party in 2017. 

“According to the CMB financial records in my possession, it has come to my attention that certain funds were paid into the trust account of Briscoe Attorneys from Capital Management Botswana Fund one (Proprietary) Limited in a company that is inextricably linked and intertwined with CMB, totalling an amount of BW750.00 referenced ‘camp donation,’” Thekiso, the liquidator, wrote to Kebonang. 

Kopanang then proceeded to explain Briscoe Attorneys had said the funds were political donations to Masisi.

However, Thekiso has so far been a stonewalled by Kebonang who wrote back to the liquidator saying he will not divulge information to him without the consent of Masisi for whom he managed the donations. “It should be noted that having managed donations on behalf of a third party, it is that third party that I am accountable to for the distribution of the money contributed to him,” he wrote. “Any disclosure of the information regarding the distribution must be with his explicit authority and consent.” 

Kebonang is said to have been the conduit through which about P150 000 was given to then Vice President Masisi’s campaign account held by law firm Briscoe at the height of Masisi’s campaign for the chairmanship of the BDP. Kebonang explained to the judicial inquiry earlier this year that about P150 000 put into the account by the disgraced asset management firm was a donation to Masisi’s campaign. 

Giving his testimony in court in February this year, Kebonang said he had received two payments in the sum of P75 OOO each on 20 April 2017 and on 3 July 2017 which were made to his account on behalf of then Vice President Masisi as a donation to his campaign. Kebonang also said he and CMB executives Moitsheki “Checks” Lekalake and Tim Marsland had met Masisi at his residence where the CMB executives expressed their wish to donate to the VP’s campaign, who then instructed them to use Sadique’s account. 

As the CMB saga unravelled, it claimed one major scalp recently with top civil servant Morupisi having to leave office on suspension after he was formally handed corruption charges that he will face in the months ahead. In charges relating to alleged embezzlement of the pension funds, Morupisi and his wife appeared before the Broadhust Magistrates Court where they faced three counts in relation to alleged looting of the pension funds. 

Investigators found a link between the disgraced PSP, his wife and their company R7 Group (Pty) Ltd to the crimes allegedly committed. This publication is in possession of the charge sheet in which Count 1 is explained as abuse of office. 

According to the charge sheet, Count 2 is explained as acceptance of bribe by a public officer. It states that Morupisi, acting in his capacity as chairman of the Botswana Public Officers Fund, having signed a contract with CMB on behalf of BPOPF, gifted a Toyota Land Cruiser to his wife. Count 3 is explained as money laundering. The particulars of the offence state that acting together and in concert with his wife on 15 May 2017 in Gaborone, Morupisi laundered the sum of R630 988.99 which was proceeds of crime. 

It has been revealed that at the time when CMB was fighting both regulator Non-Banking Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority and its partner in BPOPF, CMB’s Timothy Marsland had connections to Morupisi. CMB invested P33 554 687.50 of the pension funds in a little known company, Manor Squad, seven months after the company bought Morupisi’s wife, Pinny, a brand new Land Cruiser. Manor Squad is now at the centre of the charges being brought forward against the former directors and others implicated. 

Weekend broadsheet The Sunday Standard last year revealed that Manor Squad had bought a car for Pinny at a time when her husband was Chairman of the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund. The car was reportedly bought for R630,388.99 from CMH Toyota in Alberton, South Africa. One of three Manor Squad directors was the Chief Executive Officer of CMB, Rapula Okaile. The others were Robert Neill and Scott Reardon Macintyre of South Africa. 

The newspaper reported that the new Land Cruiser was first registered by the garage in South Africa on 15 May 2017 and was delivered to Manor Squad business premises at 16 Aster Street, Brackenhurst, Alberton, South Africa. “It was later driven to Botswana by CMB Chief Executive Officer Rapula Okaile and months later registered under a R7 Group a company owned by Morupisi’s wife with the registration number B 587 BEW,” reported the paper on 30 July 2018.

According to court documents submitted as part of the ongoing investigation by DCEC, the Financial Intelligence Agency and the Non-Banking Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority, after CMB poured more than P40 million into Manor Squad, the files disappeared. “On 4th October 2016 a sum of P33,554,687.50 was transferred out of the CMBF1 account citing ‘Manor Squad Services’ as recipient. Prior to the transfer, the credit balance in that account was P124,636,399.08 derived almost certainly from the Kawena Holdings demarcated inflow following the BOP drawdown. An additional P3m was transferred on 28th July 2017,” the court documents say. 

Morupisi left the chairmanship of the BPOPF two years ago after a tumultuous three months in which not just himself but BPOPF and the entire asset management industry were in the news for the wrong reasons. Morupisi himself attracted the interest of DCEC following scathing allegations against him that he had financial interests in the embattled asset management firm, CMB Botswana, an allegation that he strenuously dismissed. Masisi’s government has since suspended Morupisi until further notice. 

CMB is at the centre of liquidation and investigations into how nearly P600m of pensioners funds were allegedly siphoned off in questionable deals led by the firm’s Okaile Rapula and Tim Marsland. The two are central to investigations into the collapse and subsequent liquidation of the firm which left the country’s main pension fund, the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF), with a financial hole of more than half a billion.

In July, the man at the centre of the allegations, Tim Marsland, was arrested at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa as he attempted to board a flight to Germany. Marsland is expected to be repatriated to Botswana where he will face charges.