Monday, December 6, 2021

NBFIRA, BSE investigate Letshego

The Non-Banking Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA) and Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) have reportedly launched intense investigations into the goings-on at pen African micro lender Letshego Holdings Limited, after an e-mail detailing mal-administration and manipulation of company financials was circulated among the micro lender’s board members and media houses.
The Regulator, NBFIRA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Oaitse Ramasedi on Friday confirmed that he is aware of the e-mail, purportedly from concerned staff members, in which allegations of mal-administration were levelled against Letshego Group Managing Director, Christopher Low. The email accuses Low of intentionally manipulating financial figures for the latest full year results and hiding information from the board of directors about loss making entities in some of the group’s African operations.
“We learnt about the email last week and as the Regulator, we have acted promptly by launching our own investigations. We are in the process of finding out what is happening at Letshego,” he said.
He explained that the Regulator is powerful and is empowered by the law to monitor any suspicious transactions, mal-administration or irregularities in the industry.
“If there is need we can wield the stick as we did in the micro lending industry. We have conducted several investigations and inspections in the entire industry where the whistle was blown. We will not ignore any accusations, allegations and rumours within the industry, no matter how small they might be,” said Ramasedi.
He further explained that the Regulator has a daunting role of maintaining a balance between compliance, development and growth in the industry. However, Ramasedi could not disclose progress on NBFIRA’s investigations into Letshego. He also did not disclose how they received the circulating email.
In the e-mail, Low is accused of awarding P3.6 million of Letshego’s corporate social responsibility budget to a company called Primary Care Education International, which is associated with his wife.
“Currently┬áthere are several unjustified payments from Letshego to companies and consultants based in Britain and other countries that have no contract or that nobody knows what they are doing.┬á Over 50,000 pounds is being siphoned out of the company on a monthly basis to these companies or individuals.┬áWe suspect these are business associates that are being used to defraud┬áthe company,” read the email.
Industry captains have opined that BSE will likely launch its own investigations, especially into allegations that Low manipulated Letshego’s financial results for the latest full year results and hid information from the board of directors. When asked for comment, BSE Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Thapelo Tsheole referred Sunday Standard to an announcement made by the board of directors of Letshego with respect to the matter. The announcement stated that the board had formed a special committee chaired by a non-executive Director and comprising of a number of third parties to investigate and respond to the allegations.
“As part of this committee’s mandate the sender(s) was invited to meet and discuss their concerns with the Committee; however the sender(s) neither responded to the invitation nor availed themselves at the proposed meeting venue. As such Letshego has not been able to present its position and or defend itself to address any concerns that members of staff may have about the company and its management,” read the statement.

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