Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Creditors scuffle for Bokamoso Private Hospital remains

Angry creditors have not taken kindly to a proposal that founders of the failed Bokamoso Private Hospital project, BPOMAS and PULA Medical schemes, should get 90 percent on final distribution of the trust’s assets, following a decision to close shop and sell off the Hospital.

This past week, over 40 creditors thronged the office of the Registrar and Master of the High Court, Godfrey Nthomiwa, demanding over P60 million from the trust, following the collapse of the Bokamoso Hospital Project. Having pumped money into the project, the two medical aid societies also want a share. The medical schemes allege that their claims are a result of loans made to the project to get it off the ground.

BPOMAS wants P567 million while PULA has put in a claim for P16 million. Interestingly, the two were the sole beneficiaries of the collapsed Hospital project.

This assertion has put the medical aid societies on a war path with disgruntled creditors who are accusing the two of dressing up start-up capital of their project as a loan.

“The issue of whether BPOMAS has a loan with the insolvent estate or not is obviously of crucial importance to creditors. If the funding was capital rather than loans then BPOMAS has no claim against the estate and creditors will be paid in full. Moreover, BPOMAS will have no voting capacity at creditors meetings. If, on the other hand, it has a loan account for which it contends then that means that it will take for itself 87 percent of creditors claims leaving the latter to share in the balance,” reads a letter from Collins Chilisa Legal Consultants on behalf of Standard Chartered Bank, Macardo (Pty), Dialogue Saatchi and Saatchi (Pty) and scores of other creditors owed millions by the trust.

The creditors insist BPOMAS and PULA medical schemes are not entitled to a penny.

The law firm has also pointed an accusing finger at the two medical schemes for trying to grab a lion’s share of what is left of Bokamoso Private Hospital.

“I need hardly add that this is a bitter pill, which creditors are being asked to swallow, i.e. that the very entity responsible for the ‘basket-case’ business model it designed (BPOMAS) gets majority share of what remains of the carcass, which it created, leaving creditors with meaningless scraps. The creditors I represent will not take this lying down,” reads part of the letter authored by the creditors lawyer, Peter Collins, and which was forwarded to Nthomiwa, who is part of the supervisors of the winding up exercise.

The original value of Bakamoso’s trust assets, which in large consist of land and buildings, was close to half a billion, but the provisional trustees, Masimo Marinele and Dr Edward Maganu, have indicated in their statement of affairs that the Hospital be sold at a paltry P242 million, not withstanding that the value of land in Botswana does not depreciate.

So far, a South African outfit linked to prominent businessman and ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) politicians has shown interest taking over operations at Bokamoso in partnership with one of the original founders, BPOMAS.

The creditors also query Bokamoso Private Hospital’s Trust arrangement as nothing but a legal fiction. The fact that all three components of the trust being the founder, trustee and beneficiaries being the same entity has raised eyebrows. The creditors claim that the trust was nothing but a business enterprise.

Following this week’s meeting, a second encounter, which promises to be a heated one, is scheduled for end of August.

The Hospital’s movable asserts, like bedding, medical equipment and stock originally valued at around P200 million, stands to be sold at close to 67 million.

Bokamoso Private Hospital crumbled barely a year after opening as a result of a flawed business model based on 100 percent occupancy rate in a 200-bed hospital with high staff wages.

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The Telegraph October 28

Digital edition of The Telegraph, October 28, 2020.