The Botswana Police Service has launched criminal investigations against Wesbank, following reports that hundreds of Batswana have been defrauded by the vehicle financing division of the First National Bank of Botswana.
Police investigations were initially halted under mysterious circumstances following instructions from a senior officer from the Criminal Investigations Department (CID).
The Sunday Standard has, however, raised documentation from the Commissioner of Police stating that the investigation has been reinstated. This followed a complaint from an aggrieved Wesbank client who is believed to have been defrauded.
Sunday Standard investigations have turned up more than 150 cars which were either repossessed or surrendered by owners to Wesbank in Botswana and later sold at bargain basement prices to a garage in South Africa under questionable circumstances.
In most cases, the vehicles were sold to the South African garage (name known to the Sunday Standard) at very low prices even when some bidders in Botswana were offering better prices.
It is understood that the cars which were sold to the South African garage were not subject to auctioning and were merely handed to the garage on consignment.
The result was that scores of Batswana whose vehicles were either repossessed or surrendered to Wesbank fell short of their debt amount and are now facing “in the matter between” court judgments to raise more money.
In some cases, even after the cars had been handed to the South African company, money took up to six months before it was credited to the customers’ accounts, suggesting that the cars were given to the South African garage to sell first them remit the money later.
Wesbank was recently stopped from auctioning one of their aggrieved clients’ vehicle by a letter from the Commissioner of Police stating that they have instituted investigations.
Wesbank evaded questions from the Sunday Standard on the issue and instead stated that they had followed the procedure for disposing of cars that had either been repossessed or surrendered.
In a written response to a Sunday Standard questionnaire FNBB Head of Marketing stated that “we do not know how you came by the information which you appear to have and which you believe to be correct”.
From the Bank’s perspective, its internal processes and procedures regarding the repossession and sale of motor vehicles have been duly followed.
The bank said the vehicles are professionally valued. “The Mead and Mcgrader valuation book is used as the basis of the underlining evaluation.”
Sunday Standard can, however, reveal that in one case, a surrendered Mercedes Benz valued at more than P400 000 by Naledi Motors was sold to the South African garage at less than P200 000 although a bidder in Botswana had offered about P300 000 for the car.