Sunday, September 27, 2020

Nchindo faces financial ruin

The former Debswana Managing Director, Louis Nchindo, who is facing corruption charges, may find himself ruined by a Department of Land’s decision to suspend selling him the controversial piece of land at Gaborone Block 10.

Although the government has already prepared a title deed in the name of Nchindo’s company, Tourism Development Consortium (TDC), the Department of Lands is refusing to conclude the sale transaction saying it has been instructed against continuing with the sale by the Attorney General’s Chambers.

Documents in The Sunday Standard possession indicate that the decision by the government has “caused significant problems for the TDC and its main shareholder, Mr. Nchindo.”

The project financier, Stanbic Bank, who are worried about the future of the project, are also refusing to release the loan money.

TDC last year concluded a number of multimillion Pula agreements in relation to the development of the controversial plot, including heads of agreements with Legacy Limited (a listed South African company, involved with up market hotels and developments.”)

TDC has also entered into agreements with a number of companies and consultants for the construction and installation of services and infrastructure, and sale agreements for residential and commercial properties.

TDC is understood to have sold more that P100 million worth of plots at the contested plot. TDC has also concluded a financing agreement with Stanbic Bank for P74 million, for which Nchindo has stood as personal surety. A considerable amount of infrastructural work has already been carried out of the property (including the laying and tarring of roads, and the construction of storm water drains for which the contractors are demanding payment.)
It is, however, understood that the bank has become nervous about the future of the development and is refusing to release payment to the civil contractor on site.

The nervousness on the part of financiers is a result of the decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions, assisted by DCEC (Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime) to charge Louis Nchindo with close to 35 criminal offences.
Two legal big shorts from South Africa, who have put together a written legal opinion for the case, however, maintain that the state has no case, and suggests that it is all a “witch-hunt.”

“Having sat through a very lengthy interview by the DCEC with Mr. Nchindo on Monday, 3 December 20007, we are satisfied that there is no basis for the DCEC to institute charges against Mr. Nchindo or the TDC in relation to the TDC’s acquisition of the property, and that the lines of enquiry which the DCEC appeared to be pursuing in that regard are devoid of merit and have no realistic prospects of success. We might add, too, that it is far from clear that the DCEC has the jurisdiction to investigate the allegations which appear to be concerning it. We can, if necessary, provide a detailed and reasoned opinion to support these conclusions.

“There is thus in our view no basis to delay the development of the property, with enormous ramifications for the TDC and Mr. Nchindo, in the face of such charges.”

In the meantime it is understood that government officials in the Department of Lands have been instructed not to receive the P15 million that Nchindo and his company were about to pay to seal the full transfer of the plot.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.