Bona life's resurrection
RELIEVED: Sikalesele-Vaka

NBFIRA lifts life insurance company’s suspension

Embattled Bona Life finally appear to have overcome the troubles that led to their temporary closure.

Having been closed for a period of five months, the company re-opened its doors this week after its suspension from conducting business was lifted.

In July, the regulator, Non-Bank Financial Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA) obtained a court order for the temporary closure of Bona Life, freezing the company’s banks accounts and prohibiting it from doing business with members of the public.

The closure arose after boardroom brawls between shareholders and attempted coups to oust other shareholders led to a number of court cases.

Bona Life’s temporary shutdown was further triggered by the fact its Board of Directors did not have enough members, which is against the basic corporate governance principles as required by NBFIRA.

Furthermore, the company’s major shareholder, Capital Management Botswana (CMB), which was in control of 65 percent of Bona Life, was under investigation by state entities, including the Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC) among others.

However, last week NBFIRA moved to lift Bona Life’s suspension having satisfied itself that the company is now fully compliant with all the necessary requirements and that the disputes between shareholders have been resolved.

This week, Bona Life CEO Reginah Sikalesele-Vaka told the media that the quarrels between shareholders and other issues that troubled the company were now over, including the composition of a competitive board of directors.

“We have come a very long way in a situation where CMB, which is our partner, has been investigated by six state entities, including the DCEC, Botswana Police, NBFIRA, FIA, Bank of Botswana and DIS. All these entities were concerned about what was happening at CMB,” revealed the relieved Vaka, who is understandably delighted that the company she founded is up-and-running again.

CMB itself is going through a liquidation process on the recommendation of its statutory manager.

Vaka explained that CMB, who in addition acted as asset managers for Bona Life, could also not produce a report on P133 million given to it to invest nor any feedback on how the money was used.

“So we became very alarmed! The second thing that happened is that, when the shareholder dispute broke out, it became impossible for us to regulate the company because our board didn’t have enough members,” she highlighted, adding it was impossible to form a board as the majority of the partners were divided.

Looking to the future, an optimistic Vaka said, “We have started a process of rebuilding and putting in place a strategy to take Bona Life forward and to pick up on the pieces that were missing because of the dispute that we had throughout the year.”

Vaka added she was pleased with the actions taken by NBFIRA throughout the whole process.

“The regulator has the responsibility to ensure that the public is protected, and I think they have done that with distinction because in so far as Bona Life is concerned, anything could have happened!” she said in conclusion.

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