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Former BPOPF CEO grilled in Morupisi corruption trial

Former Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Boitumelo Molefhe was the first witness to take to the stand yesterday as trial against Carter Morupisi and his wife Pinnie Morupisi, got underway.

State prosecutor, Priscilla Israel, told the court that they intended to display how a prior relationship between some of CMB directors and Morupisi may have led to the charges before court.

Molefhe took the court through the processes that should be followed by the board of the BPOPF.

She told the court that the board was made up of trustees and that none of the trustees were allowed to make decisions on behalf of the board.

She told the court that if a subject matter failed to reach a resolution an expert would be involved, if the expert failed then an independent mediator would be engaged and if all else fails then NBIFIRA would have to come with a resolution to the matter.
 
She further told the court that there were several meetings over the course of the years 2016 and 2017 held by the board over the appointment of CMB as the private equity managers for the fund.

More significantly to the case, it was in 2017 when BPOPF decided to terminate the contract of CMB and discuss any legal action against the fund manager.
 
“Several meetings were held in 2017 after CMB failed to submit variation that was required. The last of those meetings was to determine whether legal action should be taken against CMB. In the last December meeting there was a letter authored by Bakang Seretse where he alleged of a beneficiary relationship between CMB and Morupisi,” she said.

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Molefhe further told the court that during one of the meetings which Morupisi attended as the chairman, he was alerted of the allegation and asked to declare interest.

According to Molefhe, Morupisi maintained during this meeting that he had no dealings with CMB. “Morupisi told the board that he does not have any beneficial interest in CMB.  He told the meeting he felt he did not need to record any conflict of interest. After much debate by the board he was advised to recuse himself from the meeting to allow for the discussion to continue but he refused. One of the resolutions from the meeting was the matter to be reported to the DCEC,” Molefhe told the court.

At exactly 1535 it was the defence turn to cross examine one of the key witnesses of the state. In humorous fashion defence lawyer Busang Manewe started his court address by quoting the bible for Molefhe. Manewe quoted the book of proverbs to put it to Molefhe that she is not a credible witness.
 
“This is going to be a long and grueling cross examination,” Manewe began.
To which Molefhe responded “can I please sit down. I have been on my feet all day.”
Manewe: “Why do you want to sit down? Is it because I am talking about the bible?”

Deviating from the bible Manewe then went on to punch holes on Molefhe’s testimony.

Molefhe had testified and presented to court, documents of the tender appointment of CMB.

The former BPOPF CEO had also presented official minutes of board sittings dating as far back as 2013.
 
“You were not present when the matter relating to tender of CMB was being dealt with. You were only appointed in 2015. What do you have against my client that you are hell bent of lying about him,” Manewe quizzed.

Manewe also quizzed Molefhe on her relationship with another crucial name in the case, Tim Marsland’s wife.

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The defence lawyer told the court that he was aware of incriminating whatsapp messages between Molefhe and Marsland’s wife in which he suggested they plotted to bring the men down and send them to ‘rot in prison’.
 
Molefhe denied Manewe’s statements and repeatedly told the court: “I have no personal relationship with Tim Marsland’s wife. My only interaction with her was when we were dealing with the liquidation process. She was at first unwilling to provide information. The 3rd party had noted her as a potential source. I was only dealing with her on the level.”

Morupisi and his wife face three counts of corruption and money laundering.

The case continues this morning before high court judge Christopher Gabanagae.

@sharonmathala
sharonm@thevoicebw.com
 

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