Bluthorn ‘Ponzi Scheme’ unravels

Bame Piet
Council Chairman: Mathibe

Letlhakeng councillors express hope to recover P15 million lost

DC struggles to pay for cracking houses

Almost five years after the Letlhakeng sub district officials invested P15million into Bluethorn Fund Managers, it seems the funds are not coming back anytime soon, let alone the profit that was expected from the investment.

The company which has been placed under liquidation since late 2019, is nowhere to be seen and the creditors are likely to wait for more than a decade before they can be compensated, or may never be. The latest meeting that was held on May 29th, made recommendations among them; to prosecute BDO Accounting Auditors, and directors of Bluethorn among them Geofrey Sibisibi and Eune Engelbrecht.

Sibisibi and Engelbrecht have appeared before a High Court inquest into the scam and it emerged that the company did not have robust processes, did not comply with license requirements, and that its staff were not trained in the field of micro lending and financial assets management.

The inquest also learned that Sibisibi has since transferred his Bluthorn shares to his daughter, whilst his partner Engelbrecht was between April and August 2020 hospitalized and unable to manage the affairs of the company.

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The company is further accused of misappropriation of close to P250million investments from local authorities such as district councils, land boards, and individuals in a seemingly Ponzi scheme that has since collapsed. Engelbrecht has told the inquest that if given an opportunity, the company can still recover the money from its debtors.

A visit to the newly established Letlhakeng District Council this week discovered that despite evidence to the contrary, there is some hope that one day the money will return to the council’s coffers, probably with interest.

“Yes, we are hopeful that since the matter is before the courts we will be able to recover some or all of the money that was invested in Bluthorn Fund Managers. We will just have to wait for the process to be completed. Remember this was not the first time the council had invested its money in Bluthorn Fund Managers. Initially, the council invested P7million which was repaid with profit. It was unfortunate that this time around, the company experienced problems,” said council chairman, Anderson Mathibe in an interview after the full council meeting this week.

Although the finances were not allocated for any specific projects, some councilors believe that their constituents could have benefitted from the P15million had it not been thrown into a scam.

Councillor Lopang Sebutlenyane of Salajwe said what they know is that the matter is at the High Court in Gaborone and they are regularly updated on the progress of the court case.

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“We are hoping that the Letlhakeng District Council will recover its funds to be used to fund stalled projects and improve service delivery. A sum of P15 million is a lot and can be used to improve our lives,” he said.

Councilor Osupile Metseebapile of Khudumelajwe and Metsibotlhoko said they do not know if the district council will be able to recover the finances and their only source of information is the council secretary who says the matter is before the High Court.

“The council secretary says the liquidation process is the only way to determine whether the council will recover the finances or not. There is a lot of projects that are not being completed, even Ipelegeng program is struggling in my area because it is funded and coordinated from Letlhakeng. We only pray to God that we recover the money,” he said. Since 2016, some residents have not been compensated for their cracking houses caused by the contractor who was building internal roads in the village.

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Meanwhile, it is likely to take up to a decade to commence and complete prosecution of the individuals implicated in the scam, which has benefitted former and current ministers.

The liquidator, Kopanang Thekiso has since made it clear that he would not discuss the matter with the press.

Bluthorn 'Ponzi Scheme' unravels
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