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Letshego suspends 5 employees in million Pula scam

Publishing Date : 12 April, 2016


Letshego Managing director, Chris Low

Letshego Financial Services (Pty) Ltd-Botswana has suspended five of its employees following the discovery of a fraud scheme within the company. More employees could be suspended as the investigation continues.

A paper trail at Letshego has unearthed fraudulent loan applications and transactions littered with the fingerprints of some of the suspended employees. Information passed to this publication suggest that the concerned employees have been faking loan applications, using the names of genuine customers, only for the money to end up in their (employees) bank accounts.

In the first week of investigations the figure totalled P200 000 but it has since jumped to more than a million Pula as more culprits are discovered.  Letshego is the first consumer lending company to be established in Botswana and is still the leading provider of unsecured credit to Batswana. Letshego was established to provide unsecured loans to formally employed clients.

The company’s spokesperson, Tebogo Serumola could not to respond to WeekendPost questions this week. He indicated that he had passed on to his director of corporate services. Mythri Sambasivan-George Group Head of Corporate Affairs later told this publication through email that they were not at liberty to comment on the matter.

Letshego has achieved outstanding results over the past eleven years in terms of customer base within Botswana. But with the latest scam some customers who caught wind of the latest scam at the financial services provider feared whether their names have been used to defraud the company which could erroneously soil their credit rating. This was one of the questions that were posed to Serumola in the questionnaire.

The employees, it is understood, prepared loan applications in the region of P20 000, P50 000 and P100 000 in the names of Letshego clients. The management is said to have taken the decision to suspend the employees in order to protect the integrity of the company and the interests of the clients.

The Pan-African focused micro lender, Letshego exceeded P1 billion in profit before tax, a two percent increase from the P970 million recorded in the prior year, according to the group’s financial results for the year ended December 31, 2015. Managing director, Chris Low had told the media it is the first time their profit before tax exceeded the billion mark with underlying profitability up five percent excluding foreign exchange differences. Some of the employees are said to have remarked that the huge profits were not trickling down to them hence the latest fraudulent escapades.

Disciplinary action is expected to address the operational matter, however the Non-Bank Financial Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA) may be compelled to come in if among the suspended employees there is a senior staff member. NBFIRA has a strict regime that could see such an employee be banned from practicing in a financial institution for up to ten years. The Regulatory Authority encourages financial institutions to do a thorough vetting of their prospective employees. Letshego’s Serumola could not provide answers on the rank of suspended employees, he said “management was still looking at the five questions sent to the Group and had not communicated as to when they will respond.”  

The Letshego group operates in 10 African countries. Despite strong competition locally, the group disbursed P2.37 billion in new loans which is a seven percent increase from the previous year while in Kenya it recorded a 100 percent increase to P400 million.

By the time of going to press, the investigation was continuing and it was not clear if the number of suspected or accused employees had increased or not.



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