The Directorate on Intelligence and Security (DIS) and the Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) have been roped in to investigate a curious insurance company linked to Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and warring factions of his church in Botswana.
It is alleged that FIA has uncovered traces of suspicious transactions bordering on money laundering by the Joseph Family Assurance and alerted the DIS. The Enlightened Christian Gathering Church (ECG) saw peace elude it two years ago when factions started fighting for the soul of the church leading to its closure at some point.
At the time, some pastors were suspended after the church failed to submit audited financial results for two financial years. Latest news in is that DIS and FIA are investigating allegations that funds in the Joseph Family Assurance are benefitting a few individuals and may also be being used to clean dirty money. The insurance company is said to have changed its name from Major Assurance Family after Bushiri ordered that it be closed, as he was concerned it would harm his integrity and image.
However, after Bushiri instructed that it be closed, some local church pastors went against his instruction to close but rather changed its name.
According to sources, P6 million has been invested in the company but there is no trail of where it went. Some members who had invested more than P1.5 million on the insurance outfit are demanding answers on the whereabouts of their money and want to be refunded.
Those who want to be refunds are members against the leadership of Pelotshweu Baeng. Baeng was at some point excommunicated from the church, but was reinstated by the Pretoria office.
The allegations come days after the Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs (MNIGA), Ngaka Ngaka raised concern over the alarming rate at which non-profit organisations (NPOs), especially churches are becoming susceptible to money laundering and terrorist funding.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global anti-money laundering organisation, recently placed Botswana under high-risk countries.
FIA director, Abraham Sethibe could not confirm nor deny if they have raised a red flag against the scheme. However, he explained that if they notice anything suspicious about financial transactions of any company, they alert the DIS for investigations.
Although some members of the church’s local national advisory committee (NAC) have confirmed that indeed they have been questioned by authorities over the insurance scheme, Baeng has denied any knowledge of such investigation.
Baeng was, however, quick to explain that indeed the church has a funeral scheme underwritten by Metropolitan Life Botswana, which started operating early this year.
He denied that the company is involved in illicit transactions. “We are not aware of any investigations. I can confirm that the church set up a funeral insurance scheme to give members dignified funerals and registered it as Major Assurance family, but later changed it to Joseph Family Assurance,” said Baeng.
“But because the church can’t administer such a scheme, Metropolitan Life underwrites it. It is registered, in compliance and have not defaulted in paying the claims by the members.”
He said if it were true that they are being investigated, the leadership would welcome the authorities and assist them in whatever way possible, as they have nothing to hide.
He said the church has corrected its accounts and is complying with the regulations and as such reduced abuse of funds by pastors in branches something he said was rampant before.
He said the church does not benefit anything from this scheme but members who have subscribed to the scheme.
Mmegi has seen registration documents of the insurance scheme, which include certificate of change of names from Major Family Assurance to Joseph Family Assurance. Efforts to get a comment from DIS director general, Peter Magosi who is on official trip outside the country, were unsuccessful at press time as he did not respond to the questions sent to him through WhatsApp.