Monday, January 17, 2022

Inside the BBS whistleblower corruption probe

The Botswana Building Society (BBS) executive team was recently poring over a cell phone text message from an alleged whistleblower claiming that some of them are engaged in mismanagement of funds and corruption. 

According to papers before Gaborone High Court Judge Michael Mothobi, BBS Managing Director Pius Molefe and his executive team appointed a private investigator, Bongani Milton to probe issues of bad corporate governance and corruption as contained in the text message from the whistleblower. The text message implicated Molefe and Head of Operations Susan Ntsima. 

On the other hand, the bank’s Credit Risk and Underwriting Manager, Viola Mosweu who is implicated as the co- author of the text message by the report to the BBS MD is challenging the legality of the report compiled by Milton’s company, Fraud Investigations Consultancy (FIC) (PTY) Ltd. 

Mosweu wants the High Court to set aside the report arguing among others that the BBS management did not have authority from the Board to engage FIC (PTY) Ltd to conduct private investigations on a matter which should have been referred to the Botswana Police Service for investigation.

While the report implicates Mosweu and former operations manager Koziba Makombo as the authors of the text message, it absolved Molefe and Ntsima of committing any of the alleged fraudulent activities alleged in the text message. 

In his affidavit, that forms part of the report by FIC (PTY) Ltd, Molefe states that the message was sent to him on 07/11/2015 at around 9 pm. The message centred around some form of grievances against Ntsima “for being corrupt by targeting huge loans which fall in arrears in collaboration with Tafa & Co Law Firm and mistreating her subordinates.” 

“The writers also accused him (Mr Molefe) for misuse of the company funds by throwing lavish exco parties during working hours. However, Mr Molefe explained the whole process of involving lawyers in his affidavit,” states the report. 

Molefe further states in his affidavit that “customers are handed over to the law firms in their panel as and when the society’s effort to rehabilitate the loans in default have failed.” 

With regard to BIFM case, Molefe indicated that there was no need for Ntsima to cover his back as stated in the anonymous text message as he was not actively involved in the case. The case involved BIFM Capital Investment Fund One’s rejection of BBS decision to redeem the former’s shares in the society. The case was won by BBS. 

On Ntsima’s appointment, Molefe said he personally spearheaded the recruitment process where they had to recruit her back from Barclays Bank as such no recruitment agency was involved. 

The BBS MD also denied as untrue reports that he threw lavish parties adding that “the only lavish parties ever entertained during his tenor of office were Christmas parties.” 

“According to their assessments, Tafa& Co law firm under the leadership of Mr Dembanai Madembo have over the years executed their mandate very well, resulting in more cases being referred to them,” says the report. 

For her part, Ntsima states in her affidavit that she always consulted with collection officers as to which law firm on the list should be allocated the file, looking at their performance. 

According to Ntsima, the society has a panel of law firms which they use in their recovery process among them Tafa&Co law firm. 

When asked about the BIFM case and “how she covered Molefe’s back” Ntsima stated that she was not involved in the case and was not even familiar with its intricacies. She also dismissed as untrue that the allegation that Molefe misuses the society’s funds by throwing lavish Exco parties and drinking expensive wines. 

According to the report, Madembo who is a Senior Partner at Tafa&Co Law Firm categorically denied any dubious dealings with Ntsima since “it does not make any sense.”  He added that he does not directly work with Ntsima. 

The report states that Makombo could not agree to a formal interview or to the recording of the affidavit. He stated that he had nothing to do with the text message. 

 Makombo stated that he made it clear during an interview with Molefe that he was not happy with his working relations with Ntsima and as such he found it fair for him to resign to explore other avenues. 

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper