On the money trail

Kabelo Dipholo
CHASING MONEY: Eric Van Den Berg

The former Director of Petroleum Installation (PTY) Ltd, Eric van Den Berg has vowed to fight to the bitter end in a effort to recover his lost money.

In the late 80s and early 90s Den Berg ran a successful company commissioned to build and service filling stations across the length and breadth of Botswana.

The 60-year-old South African claims in the following years he bought a fleet of at least 24 cars through WesBank, a division of FNB.

However, in 2007 he suffered a heart attack and was in a coma for three months. When he woke up, he had lost his memory.

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Den Berg blames the bank for his heart attack and believes the bulk of his property attached and auctioned should never have been sold.

“Most of my stuff was fully paid. Bank statements also show that the bank overcharged me by at least P1.7 million on car repayments. How do you auction property of a man who’s in a coma? This is fraud and it needs to be investigated,” he insisted angrily.

To support this assertion, Den Berg has shown The Voice a 2004 notice of motion ordering the Deputy Sheriff to attach and return to FNB a 2000 Mercedez Benz S320, registration number B 233 AHF, which at the time attracted a monthly installment of P7, 779.

The confusion, according to Den Berg, is while the Deputy Sherrif attached his S320, which he maintains was fully paid for, the bank gave court the impression that the car in question was a 2002 Mercedez Benz C240 Elegance which confusingly bore the same B 233 AHF number-plate.

“They knew exactly what they were doing. They gave court an impression that the car in dispute was of a lesser value, and then they went on and auctioned off a more valuable car which was fully paid for,” stated Den Berg.

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He further claims that after his memory returned, he highlighted these anomalies to the bank management through his then lawyer Bernard Bolele, and the bank showed a willingness to settle out of court for P2 million.

Bolele, however, tells a slightly different version of the story.

“FNB never put anything on the table. In fact what I heard was that some low level Managers at WesBank are the ones who had proposed a settlement. As his lawyer at the time I’d have advised him to take the out of court settlement because he was really struggling,” the former Mahalapye West Member of Parliament told The Voice.

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Additionally, responding to a questionnaire sent by The Voice, WesBank Director, Basiame Kgopodiso confirmed that Den Berg was indeed a client but denied ever defrauding him.

“We can confirm that an investigation was carried out by FNB Botswana and simultaneously by law enforcement agencies being the Botswana Police Service and Serious Crime Unit. The investigations concluded that there was no evidence and or grounds of any wrong doing on the Bank’s part. Accordingly, the findings of the investigation exonerated the Bank of any liability in respect of the client’s claims against the Bank,” she said.

Undeterred, Den Berg told The Voice he intends to engage the Banking Adjudicator and the Financial Intelligence Agency to help him recover his alleged lost millions.

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