ICI – Dubious investment scheme
Last week, when we at Newsmakers & Noisemakers wrote in this column about how some people seem to be hell-bent on swindling poor people out of their hard-earned cash using the most crooked means, we had no idea that we would be writing on the same topic again so soon.
Yet here we are again this week with news that a financial services company that had its licence renewal application rejected by the Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) has slithered back into Lesotho to operate illegally through a middleman.
Independent Client Introducer — the name itself could pass off as a Tupperware re-selling club and not a financial institution — is the company in question and apparently its operations are not kosher.
Granted, the company is a collective investment scheme which is not similar to the Ponzi-type of operation which MKM has been accused of.
However, the fact that it had to register itself as a money transfer business still raises big questions.
Why could they not register outright as an investment scheme and why did they not tell the CBL that they were accepting deposits?
Basotho are tired of people who take their money promising big returns only to make a run for it once it is harvest time.
Only last year, depositors of the now-defunct Millennium Goal Society had a dreary Christmas after receiving less than a third of their initial investments during a payout by the liquidator. One of those people was a 64-year-old woman who lost M7 800 to the society. She said the money had come from insurance policies paid out after her son died three years earlier.
What is encouraging however is that the CBL’s bank surveillance and supervision unit seems to have woken up this time round.
Refusing to license the shady operation may well have saved more people from losing money to conmen masquerading as investment gurus.
It is worrying enough that, before their departure, the company’s management did not comply with the requirement to submit audited accounts and provide a clear computation showing that it had refunded every investor to the last cent.
It may well emerge that a lot of people have lost their money to this company.
The monetary authorities need to be on their feet at all times. Money does not grow on the mountainside.
Well, well, well. What a mighty fine fix the Lesotho Amateur Athletics Association (LAAA) and its long-distance runners have found themselves in.
It all started at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India.
Boxing and long-distance running were the two disciplines that Lesotho hoped to shine in — never mind what that says about our expectations of the Kingdom’s competitiveness in the other sporting disciplines.
The boxers were all floored and it was all blamed on squabbles in the mother body as well as late changes in the coaching department.
The LAAA was hearing none of that, however. Its athletes should have performed better. They were saving themselves for the big money races, it said. Patriotic they were not.
The athletes denied the charges.
Fast forward to a few weeks later and Basotho athletes are in the news for sweeping the boards at the Soweto marathon in Mzansi.
To the naked eye, it might seem that this news vindicates the LAAA.
But the reality might be a little different.
The most obvious question that comes to mind is, who were they racing against?
At the Commonwealth Games, every country sent its best athletes to bring back home the gold.
The Soweto marathon however, is a whole different kettle of fish. Without taking anything away from the athletes and their achievement, it is common knowledge that the biggest names in international marathons were not there.
Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie was halfway across the world, running the much-bigger New York City marathon, where he eventually dropped out with an inflamed knee and announced his retirement.
So was Kenya’s Emmanuel Mutai, silver medalist at the 2010 London Marathon. He again took silver in New York.
The eventual winner was New York Marathon rookie Gebre Gebremariam of Ethiopia.
Note that these are all African athletes we are speaking of here.
One then wonders where the LAAA gets the notion that Lesotho’s athletes were deliberately sabotaging the country at the Commonwealth Games.
The world is filled with athletes of equally good calibre and if Lesotho wants to hold its own it cannot continue to rely on the natural talent of its athletes alone.
Our athletes are doing their best, as clearly exemplified by the Soweto marathon.
However, they need the support of competent sports managers and sports scientists in order to be at par with the world’s best.
It is simply not scientific to ask: if so-and-so ran with a bloody toe and finished the race then why couldn’t you do the same?
The LAAA needs to look at what it is doing wrong first before denying athletes of their few precious shots at victory and a decent income.
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