Saturday, May 30, 2020

Stealing from the dead….

BY KABELO SEITSHIRO

A prominent undertaker – Mike Nikolic is reportedly at the centre of police investigations in a case in which a local funeral parlour ÔÇô FSG Limited has mysteriously lost over P18 million.

Insiders have since tipped the Sunday Standard that all fingers are pointing towards Nikolic ÔÇô a co-founder of FSG. Nikolic was also the company’s managing director until his sudden resignation in January 2019.

At the time of his abrupt departure, the FSG board said that he is going to “pursue other opportunities.”

“Nikolic has chosen to leave the FSG team effective 28th January 2019”, read part of a press statement released by the company in January 2019.

At the time, the board also announced that Nikolic will be replaced temporarily by Vijayan Narayanan ÔÇô the company’s then incumbent CFO who has over-seen the group’s financial books for the last 12 years.

The departure of Nikolic in January seems to have been the first signal to other shareholders of the behind the scenes fraudulent acts that have been going on at the local undertaker for some years.

Those close to the matter maintain that when the issue arose, Nikolic reportedly offered to refund some of the money, “which was not significant”.

This week, one of the FSG shareholders – Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL) Group said it was aware of the transgression which has reportedly wrecked FSG financially.

On Friday, BIHL group board chairperson – Batsho Dambe-Groth told Sunday Standard that the insurance group has received information of a transgression by a “former senior manager” at FSG and added that in keeping with its fiduciary responsibilities, and zero tolerance for unethical conduct the BIHL board has reported the matter to the relevant law enforcement and regulatory authorities.

“To protect the rights of all parties involved, the BIHL Group will not be engaging further on the matter to allow the necessary investigations to take place,” said Dambe-Groth.

Contacted for comment On Friday, FSG Group board chairperson – Victor Senye could only confirm the departure of Nikolic and stated that he has gone to pursue his other business interests.

Senye is of the view that Nikolic’s leadership has seen the company achieve remarkable growth regional expansion.

‘We look forward for the next chapter of FSG as Botswana entity and we have succession plan in place,’ said Senye.

FSG remains the leading funeral services provider and the biggest in the country with a 65 percent market share. The group has become a beacon of excellence both in Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa where it has operations.

BIHL group holds a 36.38 percent stake at FSG. Before coming into picture through its subsidiary ÔÇô Botswana Life Insurance Limited other shareholders included amongst others Flip   Coin   (Proprietary)   Limited   , Kate Maphage, Petronella Matumo   and   Tebelelo Seretse.

To date FSG key shareholders are Botswana Life and a company called Flip Coin owned by Nikolic and family. Within Flip Coin other shareholders are prominent business woman Dorcas Kgosiitsile and as FSG chief Finance Officer. The balance of the shares is held by few retail Investors in which Allan Gray represents a substantial portion of shares.

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Sunday Standard May 24 – 30

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of May 24 - 30, 2020.