Sunday, September 27, 2020

Financial mafia sets up in Botswana

A financial consultant, Krishnamoorthy Thiruvengadam, also known as Kiran, who is linked to shady international financial services providers, is reported to be operating from Botswana ÔÇô it emerged this week.

Kiran worked for Reymount, which had its origins in the island of Jersey (one of the islands in the British Channel). The trading company known as Kerford (Pty) Ltd (Kerford) had its principal place of business in Sandton, South Africa.

The controversy over the operations of Reymount and Kerford came to light recently when a South African retiree who had lost R600 000 through financial deals with Brokers, a South African registered financial services company, filed a complaint with the South African financial Ombudsman.

Investigations followed the paper trail to Reymount which has been banned from conducting financial services business in the British Channel. It also emerged that Reymount had never been registered, or applied for registration in either the British Channel or South Africa.

Investigations further revealed that when Kiran learned that investigators were closing in on Reymount, he fled South Africa and is now believed to be trading in Botswana. Botswana is believed to be turning into a haven for shady international financial operators. Three years ago, it emerged that international financial gangster, Rakesh Saxena, who is wanted by Thailand authorities for embezzling $88 million from the Thai Bank of Commerce, leading to the collapse of South East Asian Tiger economies, may be using Botswana to orchestrate a global multi-million dollar stock fraud.

At the centre of the grand scheme was believed to be Platinum Asset Management, one of the many boiler room operations which have been mushrooming in Botswana, and was feared to be cheating international investors out of at least P7 million every month.
Worried that boiler rooms were fleeing to Botswana because of the country’s lax financial regulations, Gerry Anderson, Deputy Executive Officer:

Market Conduct & Consumer Education of the South African Financial Services Board, wrote a letter to Botswana authorities linking Platinum Asset Management to Rakesh Saxena and sounding a warning that the company had relocated to Botswana.

The Telegraph is in possession of a copy of the letter warning the Botswana authorities that “The Financial Services Board is currently involved in a legal dispute with Messrs. Platinum Asset Management (pty) Ltd.

We are aware of the alleged connection between Platinum Asset Management and Rakesh Saxena… I have brought it to the attention of Botswana financial authorities that, according to information received, Platinum Asset Management has moved its operations or part thereof to Gaborone, Botswana and is alleged to be trading under the name Phoenix Capital Partners. This company is not registered in Botswana.”

The man behind Platinum Asset Management, who was based in Phakalane Estates, Andrew Oosteerlaak, is an old hand in the shady trade and is wanted in Spain, where he was charged for running a similar operation. Oosteerlaak was fined Ôé¼300 000 by the Spanish authorities in 2002 for operating an unauthorised investment business out of Barcelona, selling shares into the UK.

Oosteerlaak has also been investigated by the South African Registrar of Stock Exchanges and the Financial Services Board, a parastatal that regulates South Africa’s financial market.

In their submission to the Witwatersrand High Court justifying their search and seizure of Platinum Asset Management, the Financial Services Board said it had reasonable grounds to suspect that Oosteerlaak’s company was cold calling potential clients in a boiler-room type operation in which shares, listed on foreign exchanges, were being offered. Platinum Asset Management was using its status as a Financial Services Board-approved company to promote its business and to give potential clients comfort.

With the Financial Services Board putting pressure on Platinum Asset Management, the company moved its operation to Gaborone and Oosteerlaak apparently tried to cover his tracks. While in Botswana, Oosteerlaak used the name Neil Andrews when dealing with clients and was believed to be using his mother-in-law as a business front.
Oosteerlaak, who is the director of Platinum Asset Management in Spain, where it was closed down by authorities and in South Africa where it was under investigation, is however not listed under Botswana directors.

Instead, his mother-in-law, C.B Duffin, and one Stefan Terblanche, who also uses the alias Stefan Taylor, are the registered directors for Platinum Asset Management Botswana.

Oosteerlaak and Platinum Asset Management are part of an intricate web of at least six companies with overlapping “agents” and “partners” whose questionable deals are estimated in billions of Pula.

Also investigated by the South Africa Financial Services Board, as part of the network, was Johan Stofberg, who helped set up Platinum Asset Management in Botswana. Stofberg is also a director of Anglo Rand Capital House (ARCH) that shared infrastructure with Platinum Asset Management.

Platinum Asset Management utilised Anglo Rand Capital House’s call centre and personnel to carry out some of its marketing functions. The scale of the Botswana boiler room operation was betrayed by Glen Turker’s testimonial, where he bragged that he used to make up to R 8 million a month for his previous company whose records list as the Botswana based Platinum Asset Management.

Glen Turcker, who was the floor manager of the Botswana based Platinum Asset Management (Corporate Affairs), broke away from the company to set up the Arcfin Group. Although he later moved part of his operations to South Africa, he continued to exploit the Botswana laissez-faire financial regulations to make business for his new company.
The Arcfin Group was not allowed to trade from Johannesburg, so its sales reps would write deals from Johannesburg, fill out the contract note and fax it to Botswana where the Financial Services Board has no jurisdiction.

According to the Arcfin web page, “ Glen Tucker ÔÇô chairman has been actively involved in venture capital for three years, as head of operations for various venture capital floors and has raised up to R 8 million per month for the last company with his experienced floor and trader.”

Another South African investor, who moved to Botswana and is believed to be involved in boiler-room operations, was Robert Linkmeyer, who was also once a director of Platinum Asset Management.
Linkmeyer’s residential address is listed as Phakalane Estates, Gaborone. Linkmeyer is also linked to Prozet, an unregistered asset manager, believed to have also been a boiler-room scheme, which ceased trading during 2001 after investors lost millions. Prozet placed the blame for the losses on its offshore clearing house, Hedley.

Rakesh Saxena, who is linked to the Botswana operation, is a world class financial gangster who is wanted by Thailand authorities for embezzling $ 88 million from the Bangkok Bank of Commerce, leading to the collapse of the South East Asian Tiger economies

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.