Legal and forensic reports into Choppies Enterprises Limited, circulated to shareholders via Botswana’s X-News and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange News Service (SENS) are unfair and biased – and appear designed to embarrass him rather than informing shareholders, says suspended CEO, Mr Ramchandran (Ram) Ottapathu.
Mr Ottapathu was responding to a Choppies Enterprises Limited shareholders’ circular ahead of an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of Choppies shareholders to be held on 4 September 2019. The circular published on X-News and SENS provided summaries of a Legal Report and Forensic Report relating to him. Mr Ottapathu’s version of what really unfolded at the company which he co-founded is contained in a right of reply to the summary responses to the EY Report and Desai Law Group (DLG) Report circulated to shareholders via X-News (Botswana) and SENS (JSE) announcements on 14 August 2019.
Earlier in the year, Mr Ottapathu made some suggestions to the non-executive directors as to changes to the board and structural changes to the company. Thereafter, on 22 May 2019, the non-executive directors, including former Botswana President Festus Mogae, suspended Mr Ottapathu. Mr Ottapathu engaged lawyers in South Africa and Botswana and retained an independent expert forensic accountant to advise him on his response. On this basis, he cautioned shareholders, ahead of the 4 September EGM, not to rely on the reports. He notes that the so-called legal report’s analysis largely clears him and his conduct, but its conclusions drawn by Botswana law firm, Desai Law Group (DLG), condemn him.
“Regrettably there was no attempt by DLG to present a fair and unbiased account in its legal report. Both the Legal Report and its summary (Annexure 1) present a skewed version of events on incorrect assumptions and are flawed. “I caution shareholders not to accept the report at face value,” Mr Ottapathu said. Turning to the so-called Forensic Report, he said its summary (Annexure 2 of the Board’s X-News and SENS announcement) was “a skewed and contrived version of a bland, poorly drafted and largely exculpatory forensic report”. He said inferences which appear to have been drawn in Annexure 2 of the report rely on the flawed Forensic Report which are premature and inconclusive.
“The language and leaps of logic in Annexure 2 appear to have been designed to embarrass Mr Ottapathu instead of focusing on what the Forensic Report actually says.” Like the Legal Report, the Forensic Report took “excessive liberties with its assumptions and its fundamental premises are flawed”. The report’s methodology was flawed and its “credibility is questionable at best”. He adds: “Annexure 2 presents an inaccurate and incorrect summary of the report. In addition, the forensic report fails to verify any of the information it received and failed to resolve any conflicting versions of facts presented to it. Instead, it simply ignored certain facts.
As a result, it cannot credibly resolve any issues relating to the finalisation of the 2018 annual financial statements.”
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katholo has revealed why he took a decision to engage private lawyers against the State. The DCEC boss engaged Monthe and Marumo Attorneys in his application to interdict the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) from accessing files and dockets in the custody of the corruption busting agency.
In his affidavit, Katholo says that by virtue of my appointment as the Director General of the DCEC, he is obliged to defend the administration and operational activities of the DCEC. He added that, “I have however been advised about a provision in the State Proceedings Act which grants the authority of public institution to undertake legal proceedings to the Attorney General.” Katholo contends that the provision is not absolute and the High Court may in the exercise of its original jurisdiction permit such, like in this circumstance authorise such proceedings to be instituted by the DCEC or its Director General.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has gone through transformation over the years, with new faces coming and going, but some figures have become part and parcel of the furniture at Tsholetsa House. From founding in 1962, BDP has seen five leaders changing the baton during the party’s 60 years of existence. The party has successfully contested 12 general elections, albeit the outcome of the last polls were disputed in court.
While party splits were not synonymous with the BDP for the better part of its existence, the party suffered two splits in the last 12 years; the first in 2010 when a Barataphathi faction broke ranks to found the now defunct Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD). The Barataphathi faction was in the main protesting the ill-treatment of then recently elected party secretary general, Gomolemo Motswaledi, who had been suspended ostensibly for challenging the authority of then president, Ian Khama.
Mr Abdoola has known Mr. Uzair Razi for many years from the time he was a young boy. Uzair’s father, Mr Razi Ahmed, was the head of BCCI Bank in Botswana and “a very good man,” his close associates say.
Uzair and his wife went to settle in Dubai, the latter’s birthplace. He stayed in touch and was working for a real estate company owned by Mr. Sameer Lakhani. “Our understanding is that Uzair approached Mr. Abdoola to utilize their services for any property-related interests in Dubai. He did some work for Mr.Abdoola and others in the Botswana business community,” narrates a friend of Mr Abdoola.