Saturday, September 19, 2020

Sleaze, Cronyism claims rock NBFIRA

Non-Bank Financial Institution Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA) was this week embroiled in fresh claims of cronyism and sleaze after it emerged that the watchdog institution broke its own rules by “secretly” employing a board member’s son.

NBFIRA board Chairman, Kenneth Mathambo, on Friday ordered the organization’s Chief Executive Officer, Robert Hobart, to fire the son of Bank of Botswana (BoB) Governor, Linah Mohohlo, with immediate effect after it emerged that the young man’s appointment breached the parastatal code of transparency.

Ms Mohohlo is a board member of NBFIRA and the appointment of her son for a position that was not advertised opened the organization to charges of cronyism. The appointment of Mohohlo’s son without advertising the position also breached the parastatal code designed to ensure equal opportunities, openness and transparency.

Hobart confirmed to Sunday Standard that the board had ordered him to terminate Mohohlo’s son’s employment with immediate effect. He explained that the appointment was not advertised because it was an emergency and temporary, an explanation that did not satisfy the Board.

The board Chairman has also ordered NBFIRA to investigate the appointment and background of Marcelina !Goases who was recently appointed director of licensing.

The Board wants circumstances regarding !Gaoses’ resignation from Namfisa (Namibia’s equivalent of NBFIRA) to be thoroughly investigated.

This comes at a time when fresh allegations are coming up, questioning !Gaoses’ qualifications.

Namibia’s Republiken newspaper ran an article on September 4, 2006 alleging that !Gaoses failed to provide proof of her qualifications upon which her employment at Namfisa was based. The board chairman’s order to investigate !Goases’ background follows a story published in last week’s edition of the Sunday Standard.

Following her appointment as director of Licensing at NBFIRA, !Gaoses’ fellow Namibians wrote an anonymous letter to the Botswana Government warning that she is a high risk individual who should not be given such a sensitive position.

Citing !Gaoses’ past problems with the law back in Namibia, her compatriots have warned the Botswana government on the follies of appointing her Director in a sensitive institution such as the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority, an institution whose only stock in trade is integrity.
It is said !Gaoses resigned her position of General Manager at the Namibia Financial Institutions Authority amid allegations of corruption.

NBFIRA Chief Executive Officer, Robert Hobart, on Thursday took the Sunday Standard to task for suggesting that the watchdog organization may not have done enough vetting and due diligence to check on !Gaoses’ background before appointing her.

In a letter to the Sunday Standard, two days before the decision by the board, Hobart stated that “on the basis of the candidates’ CVs, the results of the interview process and reference checks, the CEO recommended to the NBFIRA Board of Directors that Ms Marcelina !Gaoses be hired for the position”.

Asked to comment on the board chairman’s order to investigate !Gaoses’ past, NBFIRA CEO told Sunday Standard that, “I can neither confirm nor deny that.”

Hobart further stated that !Gaoses “produced a positive reference letter from the Swaziland Registrar which in part stated, “We recognize her professionalism and exceptional industry credentials and unreservedly recommend her services to the regional and international regulators and organizations with our most sincere plaudits.”

“During the interview Ms !Gaoses was asked if she would receive the same type of positive reference from NAMFISA. She indicated that she would not receive such a reference in that she had resigned from NAMFISA. She further indicated that her resignation was a result of a regulatory dispute within the organization.”
Indications are that NBFIRA only took !Gaoses’ side of the story and did not inquire with NAMFISA.

NBFIRA boss further states that the regulatory policy dispute within NAMFISA was the result of regulatory action taken against an insurer registered to conduct business in Namibia. “Based on a forensic investigation initiated by Ms !Gaoses and conducted by a firm of auditors, the High Court of Namibia placed the insurer under curatorship. As a result, the directors, management and sole shareholder of the company were removed from office.

“Subsequently, the Court returned the insurer to its owners. At that point the owners of the insurer appear to have set out on a mission to publicly attack and discredit key people involved in placing the company under curatorship.”

Hobart further stated that, “many of the adverse media articles in the Namibia press regarding Ms !Gaoses appeared in a newspaper called Informante. It is noteworthy that this newspaper is owned by the holding company that owns the insurer investigated by Ms !Gaoses. These articles have caused considerable stress to Ms !Gaoses and have adversely affected her reputation. As a result she has filed a defamation claim in the High Court of Namibia (Case N0 12181/08) against both the holding company and the newspaper.”

Sunday Standard can, however, reveal that the story was also carried by other Namibian publications besides Informante.

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