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Suspended Choppies CEO responds to 'unfair and biased' forensic & legal reports

by Staff reporter
27 Aug 2019 at 21:32hrs | Views
Legal and forensic reports into Choppies Enterprises Limited, circulated to shareholders via Botswana's X-News and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange News Service (SENS) are unfair and biased – and appear designed to embarrass him rather than informing shareholders, says suspended CEO, Mr Ramchandran (Ram) Ottapathu.

Mr Ottapathu was responding to a Choppies Enterprises Limited shareholders' circular ahead of an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of Choppies shareholders to be held on 4 September 2019. The circular published on X-News and SENS provided summaries of a Legal Report and Forensic Report relating to him.

Mr Ottapathu's version of what really unfolded at the company which he co-founded is contained in a right of reply to the summary responses to the EY Report and Desai Law Group (DLG) Report circulated to shareholders via X-News (Botswana) and SENS (JSE) announcements on 14 August 2019.

Earlier in the year, Mr Ottapathu made some suggestions to the non-executive directors as to changes to the board and structural changes to the company. Thereafter, on 22 May 2019, the non-executive directors, including former

Botswana President Festus Mogae, suspended Mr Ottapathu.

Mr Ottapathu engaged lawyers in South Africa and Botswana and retained an independent expert forensic accountant to advise him on his response. On this basis, he cautioned shareholders, ahead of the 4 September EGM, not to rely on the reports.

He notes that the so-called legal report's analysis largely clears him and his conduct, but its conclusions drawn by Botswana law firm, Desai Law Group (DLG), condemn him.

"Regrettably there was no attempt by DLG to present a fair and unbiased account in its legal report. Both the Legal Report and its summary (Annexure 1) present a skewed version of events on incorrect assumptions and are flawed.

"I caution shareholders not to accept the report at face value," Mr Ottapathu said.

Turning to the so-called forensic report, he said its summary (Annexure 2 of the Board's X-News and Sens announcement) was "a skewed and contrived version of a bland, poorly drafted and largely exculpatory forensic report".

He said inferences which appear to have been drawn in Annexure 2 of the report rely on the flawed Forensic Report which are premature and inconclusive.

"The language and leaps of logic in Annexure 2 appear to have been designed to embarrass Mr Ottapathu instead of focusing on what the Forensic Report actually says."

Like the legal report, the forensic report took "excessive liberties with its assumptions and its fundamental premises are flawed". The report's methodology was flawed and its "credibility is questionable at best".

He adds: "Annexure 2 presents an inaccurate and incorrect summary of the report. In addition, the forensic report fails to verify any of the information it received and failed to resolve any conflicting versions of facts presented to it. Instead, it simply ignored certain facts.  As a result, it cannot credibly resolve any issues relating to the finalisation of the 2018 annual financial statements."

Company shareholders were advised that Mr Ottapathu's abbreviated response to the reports are available on Choppies website, and that copies of his more detailed responses are available for inspection or review by shareholder's or their advisors or representatives in Johannesburg from 28 August 2019 until 30 August 2019 at RM Partners Inc, Suite 16, 114 West Street, Sandton; and in Gaborone at Bookbinder Business Law, 9th Floor, iTowers North, Lot 54368, CBD Gaborone, from 02 September 2019 to the date of the EGM.

Source - agencies