There is increasing secrecy that seems to cloak the operations of the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC), which has frustrated efforts to establish whether or not a conflict of interest might have arisen at the time when the corporation’s subsidiary sold 100 plots at its Lion Park Small Holdings property.
The sale of over P27 million worth of plots by the BDC’s subsidiary ÔÇô Malutu Enterprise (Pty) Ltd has come under sharp scrutiny because companies engaged in the sale by the corporation and its subsidiary were linked to two individuals who held directorships in Malutu Enterprises.
Malutu Enterprises (Pty) Ltd engaged Premier Projects (Pty) Ltd as its agent in the sale.
Premier Projects is owned by Charles Sheldon, who at the time was a shareholder in Malutu Enterprises (Pty) Ltd through his company Murton (Pty) Ltd at the time of the sale.
Official public records show that he ceased to hold office as shareholder in Malutu Enterprises (Pty) Ltd on 17 October 2008. Related to this, Murton (Pty) Ltd is no longer a shareholder in Malutu Enterprises, which is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of the BDC.
Sheldon did not respond to our enquiry despite repeated requests for a response. For the same sale, the BDC, through its Agribusiness Division Manager, Johannes Phuthego Sono, enlisted the services of Collins Newman & Company for purposes of transfer and bond registration of the plots purchased from Malutu Enterprises (Pty) Ltd while David Newman was still director of Malutu Enterprises (Pty) Ltd and a partner at Collins Newman & Company.
He was appointed director of Malutu Enterprises on 19 March 2004 and ceased to hold office on 3 March 2008 according to official public records. Judge Newman was not eager to talk to the Sunday Standard. He referred this publication to the Judges Bench Clerk at Court Number 3 who said the judge would not speak to the media since it is not standard procedure.
Similarly, the BDC is reluctant to say how the two directors of its subsidiary ÔÇô Malutu Enterprises (Pty) Ltd – had their companies enlisted to facilitate the sale the 100 plots at Lion Park in 2006. The BDC’s spokesman, Gomolemo Zimona, in response to the Sunday Standard enquiries said, “BDC does not discuss its confidential official business with the media”.
“We are not at liberty to discuss with you the details as presented by your questionnaire,” was his blunt response.
This is despite the fact that the corporation is an investment arm of the government funded by the tax payer.
The BDC is reluctant to explain how Premier Projects came to be involved in the sale of the plots at the time when he was a director in Malutu Enterprises. Likewise, the corporation would not say why Collins Newman & Company was enlisted for the transfer and bond registration of plots while a partner at the company, David Newman, was director of the BDC subsidiary. The corporation has refused to state whether or not both Sheldon and Newman declared their interests.