Thabane intervenes in Ponzi scheme saga
THE Prime Minister, Thomas Thabane and other government officials were this week, forced to intervene in the long-running MKM Star Lion Group Estate saga where thousands of local investors lost more than M400 million when the company was forced to shut down in 2007.
This followed the Friday incident where more than 50 MKM Star Lion Group Estate investors besieged and temporarily shut down the operations of its sister company, MKM Burial Society, at the Industrial Area in Maseru on Friday.
Dr Thabane has since assigned Attorney General, Haae Phoofolo, and the cabinet administrator, Adv Makhetha Motšoari, to work towards resolving the matter.
The investors who lost more than M1.5 million when the scheme collapsed, stormed the MKM Burial Society buildings and temporarily shut down the mortuary’s operations to “get Dr Thabane’s attention”.
Their actions affected many families as the norm is for families to collect the bodies of their departed relatives from mortuaries on Friday ahead of the burial ceremony the following day.
A representative of the investors representative, Sekhonyana ‘Basticks’ Mosenene, yesterday, said they also closed two buildings in Maseru which were previously owed by the Star Lion Group Estate, chased the security guards and replaced them with private security guards.
Mr Mosenene said they decided to take over the guarding of the buildings as well as temporarily shutting down the mortuary’s operations to get Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s attention.
“We were reliably informed that the two buildings were auctioned and sold to two different successful bidders despite the fact that Star Lion has appealed the judgement to liquidate Star Lion Group Estate,” Mr Mosenene said, adding, “and that the money collected from those auctions was not used to pay the investors as we expected”.
“So we chased the security guards on two buildings and temporarily stopped the process of releasing the deceased to their loved ones so that government can hear us.
“We wanted to force government to the table and we succeeded because yesterday we met the Prime Minister, the Government Secretary and other cabinet ministers.”
For his part, Star Lion Group Estate owner, Simon Thebe-ea-Khale, said he sympathised with the investors and he understood that they did not want to harm him in any way.
“When I heard that they were blocking the release of corpses to their families I rushed there and asked them to come into the office to discuss the matter. We eventually involved the Prime Minister who heard both sides.
“This (the closure of the Ponzi scheme) has never been a legal issue but a political matter which was orchestrated by politicians, hence the courts never gave us a chance to tell our side of the story.
“We met with the prime minister and other ministers yesterday (Friday) and I am happy that they heard us and has promised to intervene in the matter,” Mr Thebe-ea-Khale said.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister’s Press Attaché, Thabo Thakalekoala, confirmed that “they met very late on Friday.”
“The Prime Minister assigned Attorney General, Haae Phoofolo, and the cabinet administrator, Adv Makhetha Motšoari, to deal with the matter and they have promised to start working on Tuesday,” Mr Thakalekoala said.
The Central Bank of Lesotho closed the MKM Star Lion Group Estate in November 2007 for operating banking and insurance business without a licence. Thousands of investors lost more than M400 million after the closure of the company.