Wool and mohair company files court challenge

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Mohalenyane Phakela

WOOL and Mohair broker, BKB, yesterday filed an application in the High Court for the re-opening of its Standard Lesotho Bank account, which was frozen last week by the Maseru Magistrates’ Court following a request by the police.

Police Spokesperson, Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli yesterday told the Lesotho Times that they had presented an affidavit in court to have the account frozen to enable police investigations into the alleged irregularities of cash flow.

“We recently received a tip-off that there were some irregularities in the flow of funds in the BKB account at Standard Lesotho Bank. In such a scenario, the first step we took was to convince the court to freeze the account for obvious reasons. We would not want the person or people being investigated to withdraw the money and disappear,” Supt Mopeli said.

He said the account in question was opened using South African documents, “As a result, we are investigating whether the account is being operated within the confines of our laws. We will proceed with necessary actions once we have finalised our investigations.”

However, BKB filed a High Court application, case number: CRI/REV/001/2018, arguing that their operations were above board.

BKB is a South African company that sells wool and mohair on behalf of 40 000 local farmers through an auction in the Eastern Cape. Speaking at a News Conference, BKB’s General Manager, Isaak Stats, said they have been paying Basotho through the account for 24 years, and have never had any problems.

The company has been working with the local farmers for the past 44 years and we only decided to open a local account in 1993 to make it easier to pay Basotho farmers.

“We believe we followed the right procedures when we opened the account because Standard Lesotho Bank would not have accepted us to be their client. The account has been used solely to pay Basotho farmers. Over the years, we have never had any problems with it until last Friday when we were notified by the bank that they received a court order to freeze our account. We had to inform the farmers that their payments would not be processed. We continue to assure the farmers that they will receive their payment as soon as the issue has been resolved,” Mr Stats said.

He said they were puzzled by the incident as they had not received any communication from the police or the court as to why the account was frozen.

“Therefore, we instructed our lawyers to deal with the matter, and today (yesterday) they filed a case in the High Court requesting for the unfreezing of the account,” Mr Stats said, adding that, the company was readily available should they be needed for questioning.

He explained that as a South African company, they paid tax to the South African Revenue Authority, which he said had relations with Lesotho Revenue Authority. “It is important to also mention that we are in the process of registering a company in Lesotho to be closer to our clients whom we have been loyal to since 1974,” he said.

Commenting on the freezing of the account, the Marketing Manager of Standard Lesotho Bank, Manyathela Kheleli, confirmed the receipt of the court order, but could not divulge its contents due to the bank policy.

“I can confirm that we received a court order regarding BKB account but then, as the bank, we are obliged to keep our clients’ details confidential. Therefore, we cannot disclose the contents of the court order to anyone other than BKB. Our clients are the ones at liberty to disclose the contents to any other person,” he said.

 

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