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BIC lawyer in conflict of interest row

Staff Writer
The news that Tshiamo Rantao of Rantao Kewagamang Attorneys, who acts as legal representative for Botswana Insurance Company, is a major shareholder in MedLap, another insurance policy agent, has raised eyebrows in the industry.

Rantao is a major shareholder and director of Medlap, a company that offers medical aid packages. Botswana Insurance is currently engaged in an acrimonious tussle with its agent Mosele Legal Services, a fact which, according to Mosele Legal Services Director Base Sebonego, puts Rantao's independence into question.

"Rantao is involved in the insurance and there is nothing that stops him from having a keen interest in seeing the destruction of Mosele. MedLap is a competitor in the same industry that Mosele is in, the insurance industry," says Sebonego.

"I am one of the directors and an equal shareholder," he said, adding that his company is not doing any legal aid insurance.

Rantao says the conflict of interest scenario does not arise because his company is engaged in medical aid while Mosele is in legal aid. However, last year Mmegi reported that MedLap were launching a legal aid profolio in their services.

He said that he had no interest in exchanges with Sebonego because he "is merely acting on instructions as a lawyer".

"I refuse to be thrown into a personal warfare, I am representing a client as I have always done and will continue to do so if instructed," he stated.

Rantao dismissed charges that he wants

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Mosele out of business, arguing that he has been doing "lots of work for BIC since 2004" when he was still an employee at Lerumo Mogobe legal practitioners.

He argued that his relationship with BIC dates back to days before Mosele was born. He said that BIC could always get another attorney if they felt his position is compromised.

"It does not matter when Rantao was engaged by BIC, he has vested interests in seeing a company that offers competition to his disappear," maintains Sebonego.

The current matter arises two weeks after allegations of conflict of interest were slapped on the CEO of the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA), Elaina Gonsalves.

Gonsalves, whose role, among others, is to adjudicate in matters pertaining to the insurance industry, is married to a senior BIC official, Noel Gonsalves, the BIC's claims manager and the recent spat between his company and Mosele Legal Services has only served to highlight the potential for conflict of interest.

Two weeks ago Rantao, slapped Mosele with a letter of demand following an audit of Mosele by PriceWaterHouse Coopers. BIC is demanding over P2million from Mosele.  Mosele is understood to be preparing its own list of the debts it is owed by BIC.



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