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MKM seeks Mosisili’s intervention

by Lesotho Times
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MASERU — A lawyer representing MKM boss, Simon Thebe-ea-Khale, says the embattled businessman is likely to meet Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili soon to discuss payment to depositors who invested with the financial and insurance company.

Advocate Thabang Khauoe told the High Court that Thebe-ea-khale was likely to meet Mosisili and Finance Minister Timothy Thahane to thrash out payment issues to investors.

Khauoe said this as he sought to secure a postponement of Thebe-ea-Khale’s testimony in the High Court last Wednesday.

Thebe-ea-Khale’s testimony was expected to bring finality to issues pending before the courts ahead of liquidation of his troubled firm.

Two weeks ago the Court of Appeal upheld an earlier High Court ruling which said MKM was operating illegally.

MKM had appealed against the High Court ruling which said the firm was operating banking and insurance businesses without licence from the central bank.

An application by the central bank to proceed with the liquidation of MKM was suspended pending the case in the appeal court.

The High Court last week reconvened to allow Thebe-ea-Khale to testify before Justice Kelello Guni.

Thebe-ea-Khale’s lawyer, Khauoe, pleaded with the court to postpone the matter to allow for negotiations between the MKM boss, Thahane and Mosisili.

“We ask that the case be postponed because my client (Thebe-ea-Khale) has a meeting with the prime minister and the finance minister to discuss payout to the depositors,” said Khauoe.

“We believe that Thebe-ea-Khale’s testimony might jeopardise the envisaged negotiations which will take place as soon as the central bank governor (Moeketsi Senaoana) is back.”

The Lesotho Times could not confirm the date of the negotiations between Mosisili, Thahane and Thebe-ea-Khale.

The central bank governor was said to be out of the country on official business.

He was expected back in the country yesterday.

High Court Judge Kelello Guni rejected the plea to postpone the case saying he wanted the matter concluded.

Testifying before the court, Thebe-ea-Khale denied that he had acquired MKM’s assets through investors’ funds.

He said he earned a salary from MKM’s sister company, Star Lion Gold Coin, from which he bought some of the assets.

“I earn my salary from the Star Lion Gold Coin to acquire some of my assets. I also perform other duties within MKM from which I am rewarded according to the services I render,” he said.

Thebe-ea-Khale was cross-examined by the central bank’s lawyer, Advocate Johan Ploos Van Amstel.

Van Amstel pressed Thebe-ea-Khale to reveal the whereabouts of MKM’s assets so that depositors could be paid out.

The central bank’s attorney, Daan Roberts, on Tuesday told the Lesotho Times that the court is awaiting a consolidated report from the central bank governor and auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC).

“Now that Thebe-ea-Khale has completed his testimony the central bank governor and PWC have to submit a report to the court so that the court can make final recommendations,” said Roberts.

Thebe-ea-Khale’s testimony was part of the investigations into MKM’s operations.

The testimony included establishing the whereabouts of depositors’ funds.

It is expected that the report by PWC and the central bank governor will contain recommendations which would be approved by the court.

The Lesotho Times understands that the recommendations will include the liquidation of MKM as PWC has already reported that MKM could not account for M300 million of depositors’ funds.

PWC says out of the M400 million deposited in the firm only M100 million could be accounted for.

“We will only proceed with liquidation applications after the governor and PWC have submitted their report in court,” said Roberts.

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