On Friday the Court of Appeal rightfully sanctioned the appointment of Peter Collins as Statutory Manager of Capital Management Botswana (CMB).
For the sake of those who might not be familiar with it, CMB is an asset management firm that has been battling out with the Non Banking Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA) in courts of law over control of millions of Pulas.
The company is in tussle not only with the regulator but also with the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) as well as life insurance outfit ÔÇô Bona Life. At stake is monies amounting to P400 million belonging to public officers pensioners which the BPOPF invested in Botswana Opportunities Partnership (BOP) ÔÇô a company owned by the CMB and BPOPF. Publicly available information indicate that the BPOPF invested the sum of P477 million in the BOP to be managed by CMB in terms of an agreement between the two entities. It has since emerged that the CMB directors then disposed of the investment and only paid P50 million to BPOPF move that caused suspicions on the side of the Fund and the ongoing bitter battle between the two former business partners. The souring of relations between the two entities, which came into public space late last year, amidst complaints by the pension fund, triggered legal suits between the two that saw the regulator (NBFIRA)’s engagement in the matter through the placement of CMB under statutory management in January 2018. The High Court through Justice Motumise blindly reversed the appointment which has since been reinstated by the Court Of Appeal as seen on one of the stories we are carrying in this edition. The Friday CoA judgement therefore gives hope that the millions of Pulas that the pensioners stood to lose, had the regulator listened to Justice Motumise, will find their way back to the rightful pockets. From the court papers and submissions it is quite clear that the asset management firm had some bad intentions which would ultimately harm the pockets of the pensioners in this country. The Friday judgment will also help in the ongoing arbitration between BPOPF and CMB relating to BOP. As we all might be aware, the survival of Bona Life, an indigenous life insurance company is solely dependent on who will be handed the ownership of the BOP shareholding (40%) in Bona Life between CMB and BPOPF. As we stated in this space before, in our view, a recent attempt by some of the directors of CMB and BOP to topple the founding Chief Executive Regina Vaka is an indication that they intend to amass returns on investments that they did not even make. The whole case, as we see it, speaks to the loss that the pensioners stand to lose given the significance 40 percent shareholding in Bona Life that is supposed to belong to pensioners.
From where we stand, the kind of behaviour displayed by some of the key players in the case can only be found amongst vultures. And it is the sort of behaviour that should be a good reason enough for anyone who believes in citizen economic empowerment to raise their voice against. If rightful decisions are made, like the one made by the regulator to appeal the case are made, the day light robbery that was about to happen with the money belonging to Batswana pensioners would not see the light of the day. In the end Caesar could get what belongs to him. In the meantime, we remain hopeful that the re-appointed statutory manager being Peter Collins will dig further for information that will give a lead to where the pensioners monies have been taken to. We remain hopeful that with the Statutory Manager in place, the pensioners will get back their money because the #Bottomline is that it belongs to them, not to any other mafia out there.