Monday, December 11, 2023

CMB boss stashes millions in tax haven

Investigators chasing the trail of Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund missing millions have turned up information that Capital Management Botswana (CMB) Chief Executive Officer, Rapula Okaile is among world’s elite who move their wealth through secretive tax havens to dodge tax and avoid the public prying eyes.

The investigations have only been able to track down P 2, 306,627.10 from the P 447 million invested by CMB on behalf of BPOPF and part of the amount had already been safely stashed away in the Channel Islands under Okaile.

Documents passed to the Sunday Standard reveal that from the amount that has been tracked so far, Okaile pocketed close to P 10 million and moved part of the money, P 4,999,999.97 to an account with FNB Channel Islands account number GB40FIRN40644020043007. The money was transferred from the CMB account with FNBB Gaborone account number 62100023358

The Sunday Standard however could not establish the balance on Okaile’s Channel Islands bank account, but believes the money could be much more because investigators have so far not been able to trace more than P 200 million of the P 447 million that was invested by BPOPF through CMB. The Court of Appeal this week ruled that the disappearance of BPOPF millions should be considered a possible financial crime, rather than a purely contractual dispute.

A tax haven is a state or territory where taxes are levied at a low or non-existent rate. Benefiting from secretive financial regimens, companies and wealthy individuals can use these nations to store money and move it across borders without paying any tax.

Although Panama and the British Virgin Islands have been front and centre in discussion of the so-called Panama Papers leak of 11.5 million documents from global bank Mossack Fonseca, but three islands the Channel Island has also been embroiled in the growing furore over the use of tax havens by global figures linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

The files revealed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) showed that 500 banks, their subsidiaries and branches registered 15,600 shell companies with Mossack Fonseca, and three of the biggest on that list were based in the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey.

The Papers passed to the Sunday Standard further revealed that Okaile’s partner, Timothy Marshland pocketed at least P 15 million from the about P200 million that has so far been tracked down by investigators and probably much more from the more than P200 million that cannot be accounted for.

Investigations have revealed that BPOPF could have lost up to P 400 million of its P447 million that was invested with CMB.

In November 2014 BPOPF entered into a partnership with CMB styled the Botswana opportunities partnership (BOP) under which BPOPF became a 99% limited partner and CMB a 1% general partner. BOP is an equity fund set up to hold, invest and administer the BPOPF funds. The BPOPF was required to provide funds up to committed limits to BOP for investments on their behalf by CMB which had unfettered discretion in that regard, and which also administered the funds for a substantial fee. To date the BPOPF has been the sole limited partner, despite the stated intention of CMB to attract further partners.

In December last year CMB however claimed to have sold 100% of BPOPF’s stake in the fun (representing 99% of the total partnership in the fund) for a paltry P50 million to an undisclosed party. These assets, only weeks previously, had been valued by CMB at P447 million Pula. In other words P 400 million, roughly 90% of the money invested by BPOPF has not been accounted for by CMB.

Investigators have not been able to establish the identity of the investor who bought the BPOPF stake and the transactions detailing CMB credits does not reflect the P 50 million payment.

Sunday Standard investigations have turned up information that the CMB FNBB back account 62100023358 received P 18, 249,431.17 from Bifm Capital Management, P 133,500,000.00 from Bona Life Insurance FNBB acc 62496497192, Botswana Development Corporation P 1,717,486.75, an interest payment of P 1,031,256.00 as interest payment from the P 20 million loan they had advanced to the company and P174, 866,575.09 from BOP which had been transferred from the BPOPF account.


Read this week's paper