This past Thursday Bona Life ÔÇô the indigenous life insurance company temporarily shut its doors owing to an impasse between its shareholders.
The battle for the soul of Bona Life has been going on for several months now following irreconcilable differences amongst the company shareholders.
On one hand is Regina Vaka ÔÇô who is also the founding Chief Executive of the company and on another end is Tim Marsland ÔÇô a director at Capital Management Botswana (CMB) which owns a 25 percent stake in Bona Life.
Marsland is also linked to Bona Life through Botswana Partnership Opportunities (BOP) formed in 2014 by the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) as a limited partner and CMB as general partner. BOP holds a 40 percent stake in Bona Life and is currently under dispute following a fall out between CMB directors and BPOPF. The matter which was first brought before the High Court in December 2017 has since been slated for arbitration in the coming months.
This week, Sunday Standard was informed that the troubled insurance company took a decision to shut its doors following the refusal by some BOP and CMB directors to endorse names that were suggested by other shareholders as possible candidates for board membership. It has also emerged that one of the BOP and CMB directors, Tim Marsland wanted his name to be put through as part of the list that will be vetted by the regulator for possible inclusion on the board.
“Tim is insisting that he should, together with one of his associates be part of the Bona Life board. But the problem is that he might not even pass the “fit and proper” test that the regulator subject all the candidates to”, said one source who is close to the matter.
While he is reported to be insisting on his inclusion into the Bona Life board, Marsland is said to have slim chances of getting a nod from the Non- Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA) as he is reported to be investigated by the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), Serious Crime Unit as well as the Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA).
Meanwhile Vaka confirmed the closure of the company’s two offices on Thursday but added that, “We will reopen as soon there is a board in place. We need a competent board in place in order to operate efficiently”.
[Bona Life Time Line]
2013: Registered as Bramer Life Insurance with Mauritanian majority shareholder
July 2015: CMB, BOP replaces Mauritanian shareholders
Sept 2015: Rebrands to Bona Life
March 2017: P133 million annuity funds invested through CMB
Oct 2017: BPOPF-CMB dispute ownership of BOP
Dec 2017: BPOPF-CMB fight over ownership of BOP reaches High Court
Jan 2018: DCEC investigate CMB, placed under statutory management
April 2018: High Court dismisses CMB Statutory manager appointed by NBFIRA
May 2018: CMB makes attempt to oust Vaka, fails.
July 2018: Bona Life temporarily shuts its doors, sending home 20 employees.