- Turnstar Board Chair says Abdoola can’t be prosecuted on hearsay
- Board shuns recommendations of legal investigation
- Abdoola remains at the helm of Turnstar
- ‘We made a mistake and got hurt. It’s normal’- Abdoola
The Non-Executive Director and Chairman of the Board of Turnstar Holdings Limited, Patrick Balopi has absolved the blue chip property company’s embattled Managing Director Gulaam Abdoola of any wrongdoing in his alleged shady dealings in Dubai.
The Business Weekly & Review can confidently report that Balopi and other Board Members threw their weight behind Abdoola at a shareholder’s meeting held at Turnstar offices on 5th April 2022. Abdoola returned the favour when the Board came under fire for failing to conduct due diligence to prevent transactions that compromised Turnstar’s image and corporate governance principles.
Balopi rallied the rest of the Board to a steadfast position that Abdoola could not be prosecuted on the basis of unproven allegations. “How do you pass judgement on someone’s integrity based on hearsay?” he queried.
The Turnstar Board held the position that it was in consultation with the executive management at the time the story of Abdoola’s alleged sleazy dealings came to the fore. A legal firm had to be engaged to investigate the allegations. Among other things, the Turnstar MD was allegedly caught with his hand in the cookie jar in relation to two transactions entered into by the company in Dubai. Abdoola, the founder and single largest shareholder of Turnstar, was alleged to have sought a commission on the Palazzo Venezia transaction, which led to shareholders losing nearly P70 million in value.
However, Balopi and his Board came to the rescue, arguing that the legal team that was appointed to investigate the allegations exonerated Abdoola and found that he did not receive any commission. To the chagrin of some institutional investors and fund managers, the Turnstar Board stuck to their guns and formed a fortress around Abdoola, arguing that investigations had rubbished newspaper allegations that he received a commission in the Palazzo Venezia deal.
“We did not see any wrongdoing on the part of our officials,” bellowed one of the board members in response to a question from one of the meeting attendants. The Board further secured Abdoola’s tenure at Turnstar by deciding that there was no need for him or any of the Turnstar executive to be subjected to disciplinary action. “What we read in the newspapers could not be verified,” said Balopi as he simultaneously acknowledged that the allegations could hurt Abdoola and Turnstar’s image.
The Board also resolved not to adopt all the recommendations from the investigations report as some of them would have to be modified in a manner more beneficial to the company. One of the recommendations was for the auditors who were involved in the deal, SKM International Chartered Accountants, to be interviewed in order to ascertain the link between Abdoola, Turnstar and Uzair Razi and Muhammed Lakhani – the Dubai based businessmen who played a key role in the transactions. Narrating how he landed Turnstar in this financial mess, Abdoola said the Board had long expressed a desire to invest outside Botswana and identified the United Kingdom (UK), Portugal and Dubai as favourable investment destinations.
“There is nothing wrong with Dubai as a city to invest in. Unfortunately, we made a mistake and got hurt. It’s normal in business,” he said. In the latest twist of the tale, the board said the report which was compiled by the Desai Law Group (DLG) following the legal investigation instituted to review and analyse certain transactions in Dubai is complete and was received, accepted and adopted unanimously by the Turnstar Board at its meeting on 8 April 2022.
In a press release dated 8th April 2022, the Turnstar Board stated that there was “no evidence of wrongdoing or the seeking or obtaining of any commission by Mr Abdoola in relation to the Palazzo Venezia transaction.” The Board further said it has “full confidence in Mr Abdoola and supports him in his on-going role as Managing Director of Turnstar.”
It was also reported that Sameer Lakhani and Uzair Razi declined an invitation by Desai Law Group(DLG) to partake in the investigation. While the matter has seemingly come to a close, a lot of investors still hold the view that Abdoola and his executive have to face punitive disciplinary action as they did not exercise due diligence when entering into the Dubai deal, thereby costing the company millions.