Tuesday, October 27, 2020

NBFIRA promises to get to the bottom of the Fleming saga

Following the cascading developments over the past few weeks which saw Fleming Asset Management Botswana Chief Executive Officer Peter Van Riet-Lowe being accused of impropriety, the Non Banking Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA) has confirmed that they will intensify iinvestigations and ensure the law takes its course.

NBFIRA Chief Executive Officer Oaitse Ramasedi said this week the authority is currently undertaking an extensive regulatory assessment on the matter particularly around issues of conduct of both the business and those involved. 

Ramasedi further said the investigations would include individuals who have been implicated in serious financial crimes over the last decade. “We should be mindful that our mission is to regulate and supervise Non-Bank Financial Institutions for the purpose of contributing towards financial stability,” he said.

Quizzed on the effectiveness of the regulatory background checks and vetting of key personnel, Ramasedi stated that the security vetting of key personnel including the promoters or financiers or principal officers and management staff covers amongst other things verification of the authenticity of the individuals, their identity as well as work experience documents. He added that security check on financial integrity and probity of individuals is key.

“Disclosure of the offense and period lapsed since commitment of offense will assist greatly in the determination of suitability for employment,” said Ramasedi.

The CEO also said the regulatory Authority has put in place the Risk Based Supervisory Model which helps identify early warning signs in the financial system. He said this helps ensure the safety and soundness of a financial institution, including the balancing of risks and protecting the interests of depositors and other stakeholders. More so, he said this helps the authority mitigate against risk the company may pose to the financial system. 

“In the case where we identify an anomaly either through market intelligence, risk profiling and inspections we conduct an investigation to ensure that issues of unethical or unfair practices are addressed,” he said.

Ramasedi stated that if a contravention has been identified, they issue a penalty guided by the NBFIRA Act and internal policies. 

“The NBFIRA Act allows for individuals or entities to appeal any decision made by the Authority within 28 days to the Minister in the absence of a regulatory adjudicator,” said Ramasedi.

Recently the country’s multibillion Pula pension fund, Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) announced that it has terminated all its contracts with Fleming Asset Management Botswana with immediate effect. The announcement came just weeks after Fleming Asset Management Botswana Chief Executive Officer; Peter Van Riet-Lowe was implicated in an ongoing case of unfair practice along with another senior executive at Stanbic Bank who has been suspended from duty.

This past week, Fleming Asset Management (Pty) Ltd board of directors issued a statement saying “We would like to put at ease any fears that suggest that funds managed and held by Fleming Asset Management were used in such transactions.”

The board further said that an external forensic audit has been commissioned, the outcome of which shall be shared with relevant authorities.

Van Riet-Lowe is the current Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) board of directors Chairperson and he is also the Director of the Botswana listed company, Chobe Holdings Limited. He previously held the position of CFO at the Windorf and Manica Groups.  In addition, he holds directorships in various Botswana based private companies and serves on the Board of certain non-governmental organisations.

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The Telegraph October 28

Digital edition of The Telegraph, October 28, 2020.