AN international business syndicate that has allegedly extorted aspirant small businesses in both Lesotho and South Africa of millions of maloti/rand has been cracked by the SA media.
Aug. 25, 2022
3 min read
Global scammers on the prowl
Prominent South African businesswoman, Louisa Mojela
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The Star’s investigation unit has obtained court papers filed in Lesotho last month where prominent South African businesswoman, Louisa Mojela is accusing Amanda Corporation, a large multi-national in the cannabis industry based in Canada, of strategising to take over one of its subsidiaries, Bophelo Bioscience & Wellness (Pty) Ltd, in order to close it down and repatriate its cash abroad, destroying the livelihood and income of hundreds of Lesotho citizens and South Africans living around the Free State.
In an urgent liquidation application, Mojela successfully launched in the Lesotho High Court, Justice Moroke Mokhesi agreed that the matter was urgent and granted the application for the liquidation of Bophelo and appointed Mr Chavonnes Cooper as the liquidator to take over its affairs.
Mojela is accusing Akanda and its chief executive, Tej Virk of attempting to take over the board of Bophelo in order to advance the interests of Akanda, but to the detriment of its shareholders, employees and the community around Bophelo’s Lesotho- based operations.
Reports show that many small to medium sized enterprises have been hit by a similar syndicate.
In June, Mojela alleges in her application, Virk, who is not on the board of Bophelo, issued an instruction that the employees of Bophelo were not to get their salaries for that month. Mojela, who is a board member, ignored this and authorised the payment of the salaries. Had she not, 140 direct employees and more than 1 000 dependents would have been affected.
Akanda, who is the ultimate holding company, and Virk, have since attempted to remove Mojela as a director and to strip her of powers, among others, to make payments.
Virk instructed her not to make any business decisions, to appoint him as a signatory to all the bank accounts of Bophelo, stop making payments, halt all capital projects of Bophelo and remit M8 million to Akanda. The authority of Virk to have issued these instructions is questionable.
Mojela, according to the court documents in our possession, personally put more than M13 million into the project.
Akanda raised, Mojela claims, M250 000 000 from investors abroad to fund the Lesotho operations but they are eyeing operations in Europe to fund, rather than in Africa, so a whistle-blower claims. To get their money out of Africa, they need Mojela out, but she is a very stubborn woman, the source said.
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“Not true,” Virk said through powerhouse UK media liaison company, Irvine and Partners. “We are going to oppose the unauthorised liquidation of Bophelo. We never said that the employees shouldn’t be paid and we pay the local residents 2.7 times the average national wage. We remain committed to Bophelo and its employees for the long term and we will set our position out in our opposing papers”.
In the meantime, Cooper has been instructed by the court to take control of the property and assets of Bophelo and to investigate its affairs and business operations.
Mojela said she wants this matter fully ventilated in court and if needs be, Virk must come and explain his conduct to the many people affected by it, in Lesotho.
“If my presence is requested in Lesotho, I will make every effort possible within the constraints of my heavy schedule,” Virk responded. - IOL