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'What money did we steal?'

The asset management firm at the centre of the P400 million case involving disputed pension funds, says the probe ordered by the Court of Appeal (CoA) last Friday does not mean any funds were stolen, are missing or should be returned.

The firm, now under the management of NBFIRA’s court appointed statutory manager, Peter Collins, says it is willing to cooperate with the probe but says the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) should accept that the funds were invested properly and the pension funds’ interest disposed off.

BPOPF invested P477 million in the Botswana Opportunities Fund managed and 1% owned by CMB. However, after a dispute last year, CMB triggered a clause in the two parties’ 2014 founding agreement and said it had sold the BPOPF’s interest to a third party for P50 million.

This week, speaking through their attorney, Gabriel Kanjabanga, CMB directors said while Collins’ management is a matter of course, the 2014 agreement still stood in place and the investments made were above board.

Kanjabanga told Mmegi his clients were capable of accounting for the money invested and no charges had been filed by any state agency despite months of investigation.

“It is not right to keep peddling the lie that P400 million has been eaten. Even the judgement of the CoA says assets were purchased.

“There are share certificates for all of those investments,” he said.

Court records and Collins’ preliminary investigations have proven investments in Wilderness Holdings and Cell City amounting to P200

million. CMB has said it also invested in Kawena, a planned Mozambican retail chain and Agile, an education entity that was due to be established in Botswana. Collins previously expressed doubt about the traceability of the latter investments however.

Kanjabanga said his clients’ position was that the statutory manager’s probe would be of no effect to the situation.

“My client’s view is that if the DCEC could by now not point out specifically what my clients have done wrong, what investigative machinery does Collins have that could surpass DCEC?

“What could he do that’s better than DCEC? If something had been found, why would they not share that with NBFIRA, if there was something wrong?

“They have nothing to hide and there’s nothing wrong that they have done.

“They invested the money as per agreement and acting in accordance with the same agreement, they disposed of BPOPF’s interest. “My client’s position is still that the stakes in companies such as Wilderness, Agile and others do not belong to BPOPF because the pension fund’s interest was disposed of.“That’s why BPOPF was paid and accepted P50 million.

“Whatever negotiations or talks take place hereafter will be on the premise that BPOPF’s interest was disposed of,” he said.





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