Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Seretse, Sibisibi & Co subpoenaed over Bluthorn missing millions

The Master of the High Court has subpoenaed former Minister Vincent Seretse, former Kweneng District Council Chairman Jeffery Sibisibi, and others over the missing Bluthorn Fund Managers’ (BFM) P400+ million.

The duo, together with majority shareholder Eune Engelbrecht and others are set to appear before investors and provide answers as the search for the missing funds continue.

During his most recent briefing, liquidator Kopanang Thekiso indicated he was having difficulties tracing the hundreds of millions belonging to investors. The funds are believed to have been shared between directors and associated individuals.

Thekiso said the interrogations would help to facilitate legal proceedings against third parties for possible recoveries.

Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA) told Sunday Standard in 2021 that the authority could not go after directors in their personal capacity because they are constrained by limited legislative powers.

“Aggrieved investors of non-bank financial institutions have the option to seek redress through civil litigation for matters that fall outside the scope of the Regulatory Authority,” NBFIRA said. The Authority said the current legal framework has robust provisions to safeguard investors as afforded by the NBFIRA Act and the various industry specific legislation and their associated Regulations. 

In his recent report to investors, liquidator Thekiso, said interrogation of directors and officers of the BFM Group and associated companies would be in accordance with Section 431 of the Companies Act.

He recommended that an enquiry be conducted to collect evidence under oath from subpoenaed individuals and organisations. A forensic audit, Thekiso said, would also identify and track fund flows.

Those in the list of subpoenas also include Kelebogile Sibisibi, Shirley Kamodi, Joseph Botuna Mosimane,Joseph Batsalelwang, Alfred Mokone, Motlamedi Matome, Relebanye Magosi, Marthinus van de Merwe, and George Earl.

Former Kweneng District Council Chairman Sibisibi is one of the founding directors of BFM and associated companies. His daughter, Kelebogile Sibisibi, subsequently took over the directorship alongside Engelbrecht. 

Sibisibi senior is believed to have been instrumental in convincing district councils to invest in what the liquidators have now described as a Ponzi scheme. Former minister Seretse is also listed as founding director and shareholder.

BFM has four minority shareholders holding 10 percent each with the majority shareholding (60 percent) held by Blu Thorn Procurement Solutions which is 100 percent owned by B Thorn . B Thorn being held by Eune Engelbrecht (40 percent) Kelebogile Sibisibi (40). Engelbrecht, Sibisibi and van der Merwe jointly own all the shares in the holding company, B Thorn, which owns the majority of shares in BFM.

The Statutory Manager described the companies as so closely related that transactions between them are the equivalent of brothers and sister sitting at a family lunch table and passing money between themselves. While BFM was the recipient of all client/investor funds, instead of taking on the responsibility of abiding by the terms of its license as a collective investment undertaking, investigations indicated the company rather ‘invested’ the funds in its own unlicensed family companies.

The list of investors includes: Gaborone City Council with P20 million, Mogoditshane Sub District Council with P40 million, Ghanzi District Council-P40 million, Kgalagadi District Council-P50 million, South East Sub District-P45 million, Southern District Council-P10 million, Tlokweng Sub District Council, P23 million, Hukuntsi Sub District Council-P5 million, Tonota Sub District Council-P10 million and Kanye District Council -P6 million. The most affected district councils  are Letlhakeng Sub District Council which had deposited P140 million, South East District had deposited P100 million, Mahalapye Sub District Council, deposited P70 million. Landboards across the country were also not spared from losing millions in the investment scheme.

Malete Landboard had invested P13 million and Tlokweng Land Board had deposited P28 million. Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Unions (BOSETU) invested P21 million, Kgatleng Development Trust -P15 million, Botswana Institute for Development Policy (BIDPA) P3 million, BOFESETE Funeral Scheme-P7 million. Individuals had invested more than 111 million collectively.

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