Kgori Capital has been chattering a difficult path this past couple of weeks, and although the dust has yet to settle, the investment firm is ready to open a new chapter. Kgori Capital has been caught up in a storm following its employees, Bakang Seretse and Botho Leburu’s entanglement in a multimillion pula money laundering case.
At a stakeholders’ meeting on Thursday morning, Kgori Capital distanced itself from both Seretse and Leburu, and the money laundering and any other unethical proceedings thereof. Kgori’s new management however said the firm would embark on a new chapter all together. Seretse was Managing Director of Kgori Capital prior to his arrest and being charged with a count of money laundering. He has since been replaced by Alphonse Ndzinge.
The company currently manages over P5 billion on behalf of third party clients after losing four, among them the multi-billion pula Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF). BPOPF terminated its 3.5 billion contract with Kgori Capital following Seretse’s money laundering scandal.
The newly appointed Managing Director, Ndzinge revealed that the clients who parted ways with them did so without affording Kgori Capital a chance to absolve the company of any wrong doing. “it is quite unfortunate that we had to go through this as a company, most of these clients that terminated their mandate with us acted out of emotion and were influenced by the media uproar and misinformed public pressure,” he said addressing stakeholders at their CBD offices.
Ndzinge, who was appointed earlier this week however highlighted that their dumped by the clients hurt their balance sheet significantly. “Especially the BPOPF mandate, the pension fund was a major client,” he highlighted. Ndzinge underscored that while the loss of some clients was saddening the focus of his company continues to be on delivering excellence for the remaining reputable clients. “We are focused on providing excellent investment outcomes and client services leveraging on depth and breadth of skill and experience to ensure sustainable returns for our investors,” he said.
He reiterated that his company has been purposefully ensuring a healthy client mix to make sure the business was not built around any single client. He added that going forward they will further diversify their mandate management portfolio to ensure sustainability.
Kgori has since cut all ties with Seretse, who tendered his resignation immediately after being granted bail. Kgori Capital reaffirmed that Seretse was no longer under its employ and thus has been removed from the shareholder registry. “Our Shareholder agreement states that shares will only be held by those that are employed by Kgori Capital, we are currently exploring how shares previously held by him will be managed and a process has commenced to pay him the worth of the shares and completely part ways with him,” explained Tshegofatso Tlhong, also an executive member at Kgori Capital.
Tlhong reiterated that the money laundering charges do not in any way reflect on Kgori Capital(Pty) Limited as the company only acted on authorized instructions. “These allegations involve only one client, the Department of Energy, we at Kgori continue to be a sustainable and stable firm despite loss of some mandates,” she said.
The company, which currently employs 12 professionals says it does not anticipate any staff changes going forward “We are a team and we are in this together, our Directors are currently exploring possibilities to broaden shareholding to our staff,” shared Tlhong.
While Ndzinge conceded that the Kgori Capital brand and image has indeed been tarnished to some degree by association, he explained that though a number of inaccuracies were making rounds in public domains, his team has been working hard to set the record straight. “At the same time however we have a long standing reputation for excellent work, transparency and trustworthiness, for our company sustainability we have been conservative in distributing retained earnings over the years and that has allowed us to have a comfortable cushion of reserved and a strong balance sheet to carry us through this slightly difficult time,” he said.
Kgori Capital was established in 2012 by a partnership of local business persons and South African asset Management Company Afena Capital as a Botswana focused investment manager, providing solutions to pension funds, corporate, charities and private personal clients. The company was awarded its first client mandated in 2013.
Kgori Capital management and Staff Trust bought out Afena Capital Group from the company in late 2016 to birth a new 100 % Botswana citizen owned company under the new brand Kgori Capital. Amid the money laundering, Kgori Capital was awarded a CIU license early this year by regulator NBFIRA. The company says it has since taken a decision to profile and add another lay of KYC (Know Your Clients) for politically exposed clients to avoid any future instances similar to that of the National Petroleum Fund.
This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.
The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.
Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.
He was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday delivering Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.
Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.
The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.
The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.
The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.
This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.
Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.
Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.
However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.
Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.
When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.
This as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.
Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.
The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.
Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.
In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.
Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.
Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.
Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.
Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”
He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”