NPF millions spent on Choppies Directors’ Company- Report

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  • P4 Million invested in FAR properties
  • Botswana Oil director linked to FAR Properties

Gazette Reporter

Financial records have revealed that an amount of P4 469 744 from the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) was invested in the Far Property Company Limited, a real estate development and asset management company whose board of directors are former President Festus Mogae, Ramachandran (Ram) Ottapathu and Farouk Ismail.
Information gathered by The Botswana Gazette shows that Botswana Oil Limited CEO Willie Mokgatlhe is also a director at Far properties Ltd. The quasi-government institution, Botswana Oil embarks on various projects that include fuel sufficiency for the country, ensuring equitable access of petroleum products and managing government reserve stocks and storage facilities.
Other projects include the execution of the Mobile Filling Station (MFS) initiative and the  expansion of the Francistown and Gaborone Petroleum Depot Loading Gantry. According to Bakang Seretse’s court affidavits before Justice Radijeng these projects were undertaken using funds from the National Petroleum Fund.
NPF financial statements passed to The Botswana Gazette indicate that on 15th April 2016 an amount of P4 469 744 was disbursed towards the FAR Property Ltd, incurring an interest charge of P228 000 and an unrealised loss on the investment of P16 503.54 by end of March 2017.
In a report to the ministry, Afena Capital which rebranded to Kgori Capital as the Fund Manager stated that it took on P524.3 million from the NPF fund and opened a current, call and safe custody account at Stanbic bank- for various portfolio investments.
Afena/Kgori advised the ministry that its main preference on investment portfolios was property, insurance and general financial sector such as BIHL and Letshego while subsequently expressing less confidence in the Choppies and Wilderness Safaris investments.
Choppies CEO Ramachandran said he doesn’t know anything about the investment as FPC is a publicly listed company and anybody can buy shares. “I do not know anything about what you are talking about. In fact, I think you should speak to Botswana Stock Exchange about that matter,” he said. The real estate development and asset management company  owns about 173 properties in Botswana and South Africa, the majority being warehouses and shopping centres where Choppies operates.
Far Properties is indeed a public listed company on the Botswana Stock Exchange operating as FPC and according to a report by Motswedi Securities 50% of tenants on the property it owns are the Choppies Enterprises Ltd and its subsidiaries.  “Choppies is a listed company with 78 stores in Botswana, 40 in South Africa, 28 in Zimbabwe and 1 in Zambia. It is against this background that Far Property was then formed in June 2010 with a view of establishing a portfolio of properties that could answer the requirements of the Choppies Group,” the report stated.
Each of the directors of Far Property gets paid P25 000 for each meeting attended, according to Motswedi Securities.  Botswana Oil director Mokgatlhe was not available for comment before press time but will be accorded space to represent his views on the matter should he wish to.