Law firm fails conflict of interest test in BTC privatization

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The law firm of Monthe Marumo and Company failed to declare a conflict of interest in the privatisation of Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC), the Minister of Transport and Communications, Tshenolo Mabeo has told Parliament.

The company provided lawyers to advise BTC and Botswana Fibre Networks Limited (BOFINET) in the transaction, causing a conflict of interest. “Neither BOFINET nor BTC were aware of this conflict until March 30, 2015.

The onus on declaring conflict of interest lies with the law firm. In this case, no conflict of interest was declared by Monthe Marumo and Company incorporating Molatlhegi and Associates,” Mabeo told Parliament.

BTC engaged the law firm on March 6, 2014 at a fee of P1,703,916.85 while BOFINET paid the company P47,181.67 to review and advise it on the draft possession and use agreement in the transaction. Prominent law firm, Collins Newman was engaged in the deal as part of a consortium that was paid P9.5 million as transaction advisors in the privatisation.

The Collins Newman and Deloitte (CND) consortium was appointed by the Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatisation Agency (PEEPA) as the official transaction advisors to government in the BTC deal, Mabeo said. Collins Newman were the legal advisors in the consortium.

“The legal fees according to the consortium contract with PEEPA signed in March 2011 are P2, 987,000,” said Mabeo. He said the Collins Newman Deloitte consortium was appointed by PEEPA through a competitive public tender process. Monthe Marumo and Company was directly appointed by both BTCL and BOFINET from their approved panel of legal firms.

The panel of legal firms were appointed through selective tendering, said the minister. The MP for Gabane-Mmankgodi Pius Mokgware had asked Mabeo to state the law firms involved in the privatisation of BTC process and the fees paid.

Mokgware wanted to know whether the individuals are not from one law firm or partners in one law firm. The MP also wanted to know the criteria that was used to select the law firms in both situations.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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