Basotho misinformed, says BKB

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Maseru – Wool and mohair brokers, BKB say they are concerned that the general public and Basotho are consistently being misinformed on social platforms and through the media about the recent clash with the government of Lesotho.

On Saturday, the BKB General Manager: Corporate Marketing and Public Relations Jacobus le Roux released a statement that said the company is a South African Public Company that has consistently been a trusted brand by growers and traders in Lesotho and other countries in Southern Africa – as a broker of choice for the auction of wool and mohair.

“BKB informs Basotho that it is not the only broker in the region and growers and traders have a choice to trade with whoever they wish. We all know that all persons in business can transact in a free market enterprise with free will and with whoever they choose and desire,” le Roux said.

He further defined BKB as a trusted company and a “home of agriculture in Southern Africa”. He said BKB have consistently been producers’ centric in their approach towards business associates and it is this producer-centric approach that has made them a partner of choice for Basotho growers and traders.

He went on to say the trust and integrity they promote has seen the Lesotho Wool and Mohair Growers Association and members of Farmers Rock Association choosing BKB as their broker.

He also said the closure of the BKB account and its re-opening, through a court order on or around January 23, 2018, was sought without notice to the BKB, based on allegations of money laundering and financing terrorism.

Thereafter, the company consulted its attorneys in Lesotho and instructed them to oppose and file court papers for the re-opening of the account. Moreover, the court ruled in favour of the broker.

Le Roux said the company is placing on record that the bank account was not opened through the order or instruction of any person, but by a court order, adding that the said account was meant for payment of all proceeds relating to wool and mohair to beneficiaries who had sent their fibre to BKB in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

Speaking on accusations of tax evasion, he explained that BKB was assessed by tax authorities in Lesotho and sought advice from their auditors and sent letters to the Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA), through its Lesotho attorneys; but to date, they are still waiting for a response. He said a follow-up letter was served to the LRA on May 14, 2018.

“We wish to reiterate that BKB trades as an SA Broker in Port Elizabeth for growers and traders in Lesotho, SA and other countries. Disclosure of the contemplated business in Lesotho is under negotiations between the growers and traders. And BKB has been in negotiations with the growers and traders to open a Lesotho company that will act as a vehicle for, amongst other things, addressing disease control of livestock through wholesale and retail sale of medicine and vaccinations.

“We have since stopped any process of activation of that company which is currently dormant. The company was never registered on invitation by the government, but a shareholder view of the BKB, the public company in SA.

“It was registered on April 3, 2018 and the business extract is available for public scrutiny. The company is consulting with the board about the Lesotho entity on whether to proceed with activation or de-registration,” he said.

In response to last week’s issue in the Lesotho Times on tax evasion claims, he said his company was in consultation with its lawyers on what it deems as slander allegations that BKB owes the government tax money, which accumulated over a period of 40 years of business with Basotho farmers. BKB categorically denies the allegations and challenges the government of Lesotho to prove its unfortunate accusations.

Last week, the Minister of Small Business, Marketing and Co-operatives Mr. Chalane Phori, said BKB owes the government M1.4 billion in taxes that accumulated over a period of 40 years while the company operated for 44 years in Lesotho.

He accused BKB of committing a crime by deducting taxes from wool and mohair growers without remitting to the government. Lena

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