Monday, July 22, 2024

Botswana’s Forbes richest men burn their fingers in Dubai shady deal

Turnstar Holdings MD is among at least three of Botswana’s five richest men – according to Forbes Magazine – who have burnt their fingers trying to buy into a Dubai greenfield construction project by Bucephalus Holdings, an offshore company in which Gulaam Abdoola is majority shareholder.

Abdoola who is listed as the second richest man in Botswana by Forbes Magazine was the biggest loser in the fraudulent Bucephalus Holdings deal as he has to pick losses incurred by five Botswana big investors, he had invited into what seemed like a feeding trough.

In agreements he made with the seven investors, Abdoola pledged to pay them back their investment in Bucephalus Holdings “in order to maintain the relationship and mutual trust.”

A letter dated 21st March 2021 addressed to Abdoola from Davidson & Co, lawyers representing Sameer Lakhani another shareholder in Bucephalus Holdings states: ‘as you are aware various investor agreements were entered into between five external investors and Bucephalus Holdings limited on 16th October and 10 December for the development of plot no JVC 13CMRA009 in Jumeriah Village Circle.

Sunday Standard investigations has turned up information that among the “five external investors” mentioned in the letter is Satar Dada, listed by Forbes Magazine as the richest man in Botswana. Dada who has an estimated net worth of $50 million (close to P600 million) invested in Bucephalus Holdings through his offshore company in Mauritius. Dada who is among the biggest individual shareholders in Turnstar Holdings partnered with Abdoola to develop the mall in Tanzania which they sold to the listed company at great profit (story to follow).

Farouk Ismail who is listed as the fifth richest man in Botswana with an estimated net worth of $35 million (slightly over P400 million) invested in the ill -fated project through his son Faizal Ismail.

Another local big short who was in on the deal was the late Iqbal Chand of Diagnofirm and his wife.

The fourth investor was Mahomed Ismail through his son Yusuf Ismael. The fourth investor was Turnstar Holdings.

The listed company however got a raw deal compared to the five other investors as the proportion of the units they were allocated in the project fell far short of that given to the other investors.

The complicated investment deal however fell about when the three major shareholders of Bucephalus Holdings Limited started fighting over the allocation of the apartments in the greenfield project. In a letter to his lawyers, a copy of which has been passed to the Sunday Standard, Abdoola states that: “The JVC project is an apartment building that I and several other investors went into from inception stage.

The short of the issue is Sameer (a shareholder in Bucephalus Holdings Limited) always showed false statements indicating that he had invested about AED 10 M. The idea was that at completion each investor will get apartments equivalent to the investment they put in. When I got to Dubai and started auditing the project, I found that he had shown inflated building costs and false investments of his behalf. In fact, it seems he has also taken out cash from the project.”

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