Saturday, July 20, 2024

Molepolole sub-council turned down Bluthorn over Sibisibi’s conflict of interest  

The Molepolole Administrative Authority (sub-council) refused to invest in the controversial Bluthorn Fund Managers (BFM) citing conflict of interest by Kweneng District Council (KDC) Chairman.

Answering questions recently at the ongoing interrogations of BFM directors, employees, and associates the company’s Head of Business Development and Client Service Joseph Batsalelwang said they hit a snag when the chief finance officer expressed reservations about dealing with a company with links to then KDC chairman Jeffery Sibisibi.

“Well, at that time, he was chairman of the Kweneng District Council. And the particular client that I issued those details to were very clear. And this was towards the end of the year 2019, that, they don’t want to invest where, I want to say it in their words, that there’s some level of political involvement.

So they never did invest, Batsalelwang said, adding “And I can attest that even Kweneng District Council (Molepolole sub-council) on its own. Well, it’s got subsidies, it’s got sub-councils, but on its own, it never did invest in us. And one of the reasons why they didn’t invest with us, it was raised by two individuals. I think it was the chief finance officer, including I can’t remember the other gentleman’s title. And they put it straight to me of the involvement of Mr. Sibisibi to BFM. And then they were very clear that that will be serious conflict. And I never went back to Kweneng District because of that concern.”

According to Batsalelwang they said it presented a risk if Kweneng District Council decided to invest because now there would be conflict. “If I recall well
in terms of Kweneng district, what made me basically to walk away was the investment committee not only constituted the employees or management of the council, it also included the Councilors themselves,” he said when responding to a question from KDC lawyer Dutch Leburu.

He said this was towards the end of the year 2019. He said the sub-council expressed concerns that there was some level of political involvement. Both Mogoditshane Sub District Council and Letlhakeng Sub District Council which fall under KDC however invested P40 million and P15 million respectively.

Although he was a shareholder Batsalelwang said he did not exercise any shareholder rights such that he was not even aware that Sibisibi was being paid a P50, 000 allowance and that there was a lease for a house in which the KDC chairman was receding.
“No, I wasn’t aware of that. Remember, some of these decisions were taken above our heads. So it was executive decision and most likely board decision, but I never set in the board anyway.”
Batsalelwang said that is the information he would have ordinarily gotten at a shareholders meeting but there was never such a meeting.

“So basically, even though you were a shareholder, all these things were never brought up at shareholder meetings because they didn’t take place. Did you have a say in who would be the directors of the company,” BFM Liquidator Kopanang Thekiso’s lawyer Sipho Ziga asked.

“No. I would have said that if there was a shareholders’ meeting,” Batswalelwang responded. He said he had never been invited to a shareholders’ meeting.
Botswana Secondary School Teachers Union (BOSETU) lawyer Kabo Motswagole also asked the Head of Business Development and Client Service about Sibisibi’s role in BFM given he was paid a relatively significant monthly allowance. “I didn’t hear your response quite very clearly when you were asked what you understood Mr Sibisibi’s role in
the company was. What did you understand his role to be,” Motswagole asked.

“I thought I said he was the director and shareholder at Bluthorn. And then Bluthorn was invested in Bluthorn Holdings, then Bluthorn Holdings which had Bluthorn in it was invested in BFM. Now with regards to the roles, I wouldn’t say I clearly understood his role, I only knew him to be director/shareholder,” Batsalelwang responded. “Did he do anything, what was he doing?” Motswagole asked.

“He was a director/shareholder. I’m assuming directors and shoulders will have their own ways on how they could actually perform their director/shareholder active duties,” Batsalelwang responded. Motswagole’s BOSETU had invested at least P21 million in BFM.


Read this week's paper