A few weeks before Chris Low resigned as the Managing Director (MD) of Botswana Stock Exchange-listed Letshego Group signs started showing that things were not going well at the Pan African Company.
Early this year the company’s annual financial results were qualified by PriceWatersCoopers due to miscalculated tax returns but the company went ahead and released them.
This allegedly did not please the board of Directors who started to sniff around fishing for information as they realised that the titanic financial ship which has spread itself around Africa was going in the wrong direction.
Information gathered by this publication has shown that corruption busting agency, the Directorate on Economic Crime and Corruption (DCEC), had started circling around Letshego Group like eagle circling over a carcass over suspicion of tax evasion and money laundering.
Letshego’s Head of Group Corporate Affairs, Lauren Callie, has however denied any knowledge that they were being investigated by DCEC and FIA.
“In response to your enquiry, the Letshego Group confirms that we have not received any official notification of any such investigations from the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) or the Financial Intelligence Agency in Botswana,” she said in response to a questionnaire sent to her.
Internal investigations within the group are alleged to have discovered that some money were diverted and put in a Trust account of one of the company’s top executives.
The executive who is based in North Africa is said to be in a difficult position to explain how millions of money landed in the Trust and personal account.
“Nigerian office is not doing well and mostly supported by the other countries and has failed to produce an audited report,” revealed the source, adding that it is one of the biggest markets that is failing due to poor management.
Efforts to get comment from Low on whether it is true he is under the radar of DCEC hit a snag as he did not respond to questions sent to him through SMS and the WhatsApp message app, though it showed he had read it.
This publication wanted to enquire from him if he was aware of allegations of money laundering and tax evasion leveled against Letshego group during his reign and that DCEC was investigating the matter. Low tendered his resignation last week Thursday immediately after the board meeting and didn’t state reasons for his sudden departure.
Executives based in South Africa
Though Letshego Group’s Head office is in Gaborone most of their executives including Calie are based in South Africa and come to Botswana once in a while, a move viewed by industry players as evasion of tax both in Botswana and South Africa.
“This is one of the issue that created problems when external auditors where doing auditing, something that has attracted the attention of both DCEC and FIA,” revealed the source.
Low recently defended this matter in an interview. “Letshego’s operations in Botswana comprise two entities under which staff are employed: Letshego Financial Services Botswana (Letshego Botswana), and Letshego Holdings Ltd (Letshego Group). Every role in Letshego Botswana – the local country business – is filled with a local Botswana national. Letshego is proud of its ability to employ local Batswana and contribute to local employment levels within the economy. Like so many other multinationals in Africa, the Letshego Group has people and talent located across the Africa region, given our Group operations and presence spans 11 countries in Sub Saharan Africa; however the Head Office remains based from Gaborone,” he said.