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BoB frustrated by cyber-based illegal operations

Bank of Botswana (BoB) admitted in its latest Banking Supervision Report that it is failing to crack down illicit cyber-based banking business operations in the form of pyramid schemes and illegal deposit-takings because “the Bank is constrained in taking any action against operations based outside its jurisdiction.”

According to the Banking Supervision Report 2017, “the current challenge relates to cyber-based operations, with no local or cross-border physical location, as the Bank is constrained in taking any action against operations based outside its jurisdiction.” The Central Bank says during 2017, BoB investigated two illegal banking business operations and one originated from Botswana while the other was web-based and originated from  South Africa. According to the Report, the schemes were Botswana Index Rating (Pty) Limited and Pipcoin owned by Refiloe Nkele who is popularly known as Ref Wayne.

Information gathered by this publication is that Nkele and other web-based illegal operators have proved to be handful to the central bank and continue to operate illegally. According to the Banking Supervision Report 2017 these operators make sure they amass enough capital through cyber transactions and collapse the scheme along the way leaving their clientele in limbo without any trace.

“…The unsustainability of such ventures is revealed when the schemes collapse and investors lose their money and seek the intervention of the Bank,” says the BoB report. Last year Nkele came to Botswana and was thronged by multitudes at the Gaborone International Convention Centre who wanted to “learn about forex trade.” This event raised public debate emanating from mixed reactions about the self-proclaimed millionaire’s credentials and claim to fame and fortune.

However Nkele’s reputation took a knock in Botswana borders just after the Gaborone event following the self-proclaimed billionaire’s post of Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) logo on social media without consent. The BSE complained and stated that “we did not consent to the use of the BSE logo.”  The BSE embarrassing statement against Nkele was followed by BoB exposing Nkele as an agent of illegal online pyramid scheme.

While the Bank shut down Banking Index Rating, ordering it to “cease and desist” from all activities involving the acceptance of money from the public, Nkele or Pipcoin was referred by BoB to the South African central bank. “In relation to Pipcoin, the Bank consulted the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), which confirmed that the company had contravened the South African Banks Act 94 of 1990 by taking deposits illegally from members of the public.

The SARB indicated that the matter had been referred to the National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa for appropriate action. This notwithstanding, the Bank also concluded that Pipcoin’s activities constituted illegal deposit-taking and contravened Section 3(1) of the Banking Act, which restricts transacting banking business and/or soliciting deposits of money to licensed banks. The Bank issued a press release warning the public about illegal deposit-taking activities and advised them to desist from participating in such unlicensed schemes,” said the Banking Supervision Report 2017.

Parliament of Botswana has promulgated the Consumer Protection Act which prescribes the multiplication, pyramid, chain letter schemes and other related activities as illegal ventures. The Bank of Botswana Act stipulates that the business of taking deposits of money from members of the public is the preserve of licensed banks since this part constitutes banking business.

When launching the BoB’s Monetary Policy Report at the just ended National Business Conference, Governor Moses Pelaelo emphasized the Bank’s role in protecting the country’s financial system and the consumers. He said this will help Botswana move well-oiled economically in the journey towards high income status. The theme of the conference was “Breaking through to a High-Income Botswana – The Role of the Private Sector in Charting the Path” and Pelaelo said its intent is “to project the relevance and role of the Bank of Botswana in contributing to the journey towards high income status for Botswana.”

When explaining the supervisory, regulatory or overview role of the Bank Pelaelo, “to give perspective, you will be aware, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, that the Bank exists to protect the value of the local currency, the Pula and thebe, through currency management operations, monetary policy, exchange rate management, regulation and supervision of relevant financial institutions and facilitating sound payments and settlement frameworks.

Essentially, the Bank promotes the desire and willingness to hold the local currency, as well as to transact and save locally in Pula premised on the quality and durability of the banknotes and coin; stable, predictable domestic price changes; safety and soundness of the financial system and reliable payment infrastructure. Inevitably, where central banks fail to achieve these outcomes, or are constrained by political interference, economic performance and development suffer 4 considerably; recent examples include Venezuela and Zimbabwe.”

By fostering appropriate conditions, Pelaelo said, the central bank has throughout its 43 years of existence contributed to stability of the macroeconomic environment and financial system, as well as integrity and reliability of payments and settlement platforms. He said this enables economic activity, as manifested in the ability to transact and access financial service.

BoB launches Monetary Policy Report

Last week during the National Business Conference the central bank kicked off its first ever Monetary Policy Report. BoB also explained its relevance in influencing expectations and economic activity. The Bank will publish four Monetary Policy Reports each calendar year in April, August and October will be preceded by the Monetary Policy Statement in February each year.

“The Monetary Policy Report will be the main medium through which the Bank will inform the public about the formulation and implementation of monetary policy. It serves to meet the public’s expectation of a transparent and accountable central bank in fulfilling the monetary policy mandate,” said Governor Pelaelo.

Pelaelo also said the Monetory Policy Report was made in an effort to further improve on communication and transparency on economic and policy analysis and implementation. The Monetary Policy Report also provides a comprehensive, forward-looking framework for policy formulation by the MPC and serves as a basis for policy decisions.

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China’s GDP expands 3% in 2022 despite various pressures

2nd February 2023
China’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expanded by 3% year-on-year to 121.02 trillion yuan ($17.93 trillion) in 2022 despite being mired in various growth pressures, according to data from the National Bureau Statistics.

The annual growth rate beat a median economist forecast of 2.8% as polled by Reuters. The country’s fourth-quarter GDP growth of 2.9% also surpassed expectations for a 1.8% increase.

In 2022, the Chinese economy encountered more difficulties and challenges than was expected amid a complex domestic and international situation. However, NBS said economic growth stabilized after various measures were taken to shore up growth.

Industrial output rose 3.6% in 2022 over the previous year, while retail sales slightly shrank by 0.2% data show that fixed-asset investment increased 5.1% over 2021, with a 9.1% hike in manufacturing investment but a 10% fall in property investment.

China created 12.06 million new jobs in urban regions throughout the year, surpassing its annual target of 11 million, and officials have stressed the importance of continuing an employment-first policy in 2023.

Meanwhile, China tourism market is a step closer to robust recovery. Tourism operators are in high spirits because the market saw a good chance of a robust recovery during the Spring Festival holiday amid relaxed COVID-19 travel policies.

On January 27, the last day of the seven-day break, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism published an encouraging performance report of the tourism market. It said that domestic destinations and attractions received 308 million visits, up 23.1% year-on-year. The number is roughly 88.6% of that in 2019, they year before the pandemic hit.

According to the report, tourism-related revenue generated during the seven-day period was about 375.8 billion yuan ($55.41 billion), a year-on-year rise of 30%. The revenue was about 73% of that in 2019, the Ministry said.

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Jewellery manufacturing plant to create over 100 jobs

30th January 2023

The state of the art jewellery manufacturing plant that has been set up by international diamond and cutting company, KGK Diamonds Botswana will create over 100 jobs, of which 89 percent will be localized.

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Investors inject capital into Tsodilo Resources Company

25th January 2023

Local diamond and metal exploration company Tsodilo Resources Limited has negotiated a non-brokered private placement of 2,200, 914 units of the company at a price per unit of 0.20 US Dollars, which will provide gross proceeds to the company in the amount of C$440, 188. 20.

According to a statement from the group, proceeds from the private placement will be used for the betterment of the Xaudum iron formation project in Botswana and general corporate purposes.

The statement says every unit of the company will consist of a common share in the capital of the company and one Common Share purchase warrant of the company.

Each warrant will enable a holder to make a single purchase for the period of 24 months at an amount of $0.20. As per regularity requirements, the group indicates that the common shares and warrants will be subject to a four month plus a day hold period from date of closure.

Tsodilo is exempt from the formal valuation and minority shareholder approval requirements. This is for the reason that the fair market value of the private placement, insofar as it involves the director, is not more than 25% of the company’s market capitalization.

Tsodilo Resources Limited is an international diamond and metals exploration company engaged in the search for economic diamond and metal deposits at its Bosoto Limited and Gcwihaba Resources projects in Botswana.  The company has a 100% stake in Bosoto which holds the BK16 kimberlite project in the Orapa Kimberlite Field (OKF) in Botswana.

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