Sunday, October 17, 2021

Former minister auctioned as Bridgetown Resort goes belly up

First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) has made a fresh application to the High Court seeking an order that former cabinet minister Patrick Balopi and wife Gaseanngwe’s personal property be placed under provisional sequestration because their company Bridgetown Resort defaulted in servicing a P37 million loan with the bank. 

The latest application follows Lobatse High Court’s last week judgement ordering that Bridgetown Resort be placed under liquidation because it failed to pay a loan owed to FNBB. Court documents seen by Sunday Standard and filed before the Lobatse High Court cite FNBB as the petitioner while the former minister and wife are first and second respondent respectively. FNBB made a petition to the high court for an order “directing that the joint estate of the first and second respondents be placed under provisional sequestration.”

According to FNBB, the Balopis are jointly and severally liable and stand as surety and co-principal debtors in sodium for the performance of all of Bridgetown’s obligations to the banker, as evinced by the deeds of suretyship. Gaseanngwe and Patrick are married in community of property hence their sharing of the application, states the court documents.

“Bridgetown is legally deemed unable to pay its debts in terms of Section 368(a) of the Companies Act. To your Petitioner (FNBB)’s knowledge, Bridgetown is a failed enterprise the day-to-day expenditure of which is financed by its members. Such members have advised Your Petitioner (FNBB) of their efforts to dispose of the major asset of Bridgetown, a hotel, so as to enable the company to settle its indebtedness to Your Petitioner (FNBB). This is a further act of insolvency in terms of Section 8(e) of the Act,” said court documents filed by FNBB.

In the court documents FNBB also suggest that an attorney by the name of Jayne Cross be appointed as a Provisional Trustee and subsequently be confirmed as Trustee. Cross will among other things be tasked with investigating the affairs of the Balopis and search for any assets which might have been hidden by the couple. Court documents suggest that FNBB is eyeing a plot in Gaborone and farms owned by the Balopis among others to be brought forward for sequestration.

FNBB has petitioned that other major shareholders in Bridgetown Resort Ahmad Mansur Siddiqi and his son Jaudat also be placed under provisional sequestration for the same reasons advanced on an application against the Balopis. The Balopis are major shareholders together with the Siddiqis. Jaudat and Ahmad own food catering giant Mogul Catering Services.

Through their lawyers Ndlovu Motshepi& Co the Balopi and his wife oppose the petition for provisional sequestration suggesting that FNBB is being speculative by saying that Bridgetown is unable to pay.

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