Thursday, December 5, 2019

Okaile to be hauled over the coals by CMB creditors

Details of how Capital Management Botswana (CMB) allegedly siphoned off tens of millions of Pula belonging to pensioners are expected to be unravelled when its former boss, Rapula Okaile, comes face to face with angry creditors.

The dispute revolves around more than P450 million of public pension fund assets currently being fought over at the High Court. The Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFRA) took CMB to court after Botswana Public Officers Pensioners Fund (BPOPF) lodged a complaint that it was struggling to recover millions of Pula under CMB’s management.

Rapula and another former director of CMB Tim Marsland are facing serious criminal charges ranging from fraud, money laundering, bribery and racketeering over the embezzlement of over P450 million obtained under suspicious circumstances from (BPOPF.

This week lawyers representing BPOPF expressed their anger against Okaile after he failed to show up at a creditors’ meeting at the Court of Appeal.

Advocate Stephen Vivian who was instructed by Minchin & Kelly law firm on behalf of BPOPF said it was disrespectful of Okaile not to attend the Thursday meeting.

“My client is concerned about the conduct of Mr. Okaile. We are told that Okaile is writing examinations tomorrow and at night not during the day.

He must come here and answer for the missing of millions belonging to pensioners,” he said. Vivian who insisted that the BPOPF was pushing for the recovery of millions of Pula from CMB and its directors said “writing exams is not as important as millions of Pula that the pensioners have lost.”

Describing Rapula’s conduct as disrespectful, Vivian also noted that Rapula did not have the courtesy to inform the liquidator of CMB or BPOPF that he would be unable to attend the meeting.

Vivian also told the Master of the High Court Chipo Gaobatwe that “Okaile’s conduct is tantamount to being disrespectful of this office and their proceedings. We request that you issue an order that he should come here and answer questions.”  He described the alleged siphoning of millions of Pula belonging to pensioners by CMB as a matter of national importance.

Earlier on Okaile’s lawyer, Mpho Gaobakwe told Master of the Court that Rapula was unable to attend the meeting because he was due to sit for examinations at the University of Botswana.

“Mr Okaile is sitting for examinations at the University of Botswana. He wrote a letter indicating that the dates are not suitable for him. He prays that he be excused from the proceedings of today and tomorrow,” said Gaobakwe.

Asked by the Master of the High Court what subjects Okaile was sitting examinations for, Gaobakwe explained that he was writing an examination paper for Business law which is part of a Masters Degree Programme. He said Okaile received the timetable for the examinations late.

In her ruling, Gaobatwe noted that “it would have been courteous for Okaile to attend, but die the examinations and the time required for one to prepare, the application is granted.” She warned that “next time he should attend. Okaile is expected to appear before Gaobatwe on 16th and 17th March next year.

CMB, now under liquidation, was contracted by the BPOPF in 2014 to manage an initial P500 million investment mandate in private, unlisted equity. The asset manager and the pension fund fell out in late 2017 with allegations of misappropriation, at which point CMB had reportedly being given P477 million to manage.

The asset manager sent BPOPF P50 million back and said the amount was fulfilment and settlement of its (CMB’s) obligations under the contract. One of the director of CMB, Marsland, a South African was taken into custody recently in Johannesburg, and is fighting extradition to Botswana. His application for bail was recently rejected by that country’s court.

Meanwhile when appearing before Gaobatwe, Alliance for Progressives President Ndaba Gaolathe explained that he was paid P1, 333, 338 from a CMB Call Account for the period between 29 May 2017 until 10 January 2018.

Asked by NBIFRA lawyer Sipho Ziga what the payment was for, Gaolathe explained that it was for the services he offered to Fleming Management Botswana as a consultant or strategic partner.

The funds were paid in batches of P166, 666 each at regular intervals for the nine months. Gaolathe became entangled in CMB through its parent company Capital Management Africa (CMA)- nwholly owned by Marsland- after the latter bought all the shareholding at Fleming Asset Management Botswana from Robert Fleming Botswana Holdings and Starfish.

Another witness and former Fleming Asset Management Botswana shareholder Peter Van Riet-Lowe said payment from CMB account was money he received for his shares when the company was sold.

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