The men and women saddled with the onerous responsibility of locating, investigating, arresting and punishing the millions of the corrupt in Africa’s largest economy, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, have a tagline that leaves nothing to chance. On each and every form of communication, just below the signature of the official, they leave their motto. It is written in a simple font. It is small but impossible to miss. The “EFCC” is followed by three dots, then the straightforward warning: “Will get you anywhere, anytime.” For emphasis, this is followed by an exclamation mark.
On 8 November 2010, at 15A Awolowo Road, Ikoji, Lagos around 10am, they had a youthful highflying Motswana CEO of one of the country’s main security companies, Group 4 Securicor Nigeria Limited. His name was Percy Raditladi.
Raditladi had left Botswana five months before, having supervised G4S’s Botswana subsidiary into a successful enterprise. In the financial year preceding his departure, the company had reported substantial growth. Raditladi had gathered journalists to release the sparkling results with a confident smile in June 2009.
According to media reports at the time, the company had registered turnover growth of 35 percent to P66million for the six months ending June 2009, an improvement of 34.9 percent. Compared with P48 million for the same period the in the preceding year, the company seemed destined for an even brighter year ahead, taking into consideration the cash reserves it had amassed at an increasing rate, from P11 million in 2008 to P28 million.
Professionally, Raditladi was on his way somewhere higher up within the long corporate ladder of the 360 000 employee-strong conglomerate, as exemplified by his promotion to the company’s then second biggest market, Nigeria. But the EFCC wanted Raditladi, as the leader of the Nigerian subsidiary because they were “investigating a case in which … the company featured”.
It seems the Nigerian subsidiary was being investigated for possible illegal practices regarding tax payments from as early as 2003 and other issues relating to payment of staff pension deductions. The EFCC states this in its first letter dated 9 November 2010.
Raditladi was not going anywhere, any time soon. He attempted to tell the EFCC officials that all the matters that G4S in Nigeria was being investigated for related to events that had taken place years before he took over, but the graft busters would have none of it. As far as they were concerned, by his appointment as MD of the Nigerian subsidiary, he was directly and personally responsible for the assets and liabilities of the company. The EFCC had Raditladi, and would not release him unless under stringent bail conditions. In his affidavit, he argues that he had to find a personal surety which was through a man he knew; a man who was a former member of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. When Raditladi left the company later, the company, he argues, could not find anyone willing to stand in his place in this matter, and the two parties drafted an agreement in which he would stay on until the end of the investigation.
Unbeknownst to him, the man who just half a year earlier had left a successful subsidiary, one hailed as one of the shining and rising stars of the multinational, was just about to embark on a battle with his employers; a confrontation that just this last week took a different turn when the High Court placed control of 70 percent shareholding of G4S PLC in its local subsidiary, G4S Botswana Limited.
Raditladi says after his encounter with the EFCC, he continued to work in Nigeria, despite having the fear that he could be arrested and imprisoned any time. However, in 2011, Raditladi made a decision to quit his job. As a result of his resignation, the bail matter became a major issue. “My release on the ‘bail’ that I had had to lodge with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission became one of key subjects for discussion when I tendered my resignation. At the time I so resigned, the investigations by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission were at a delicate stage,” he states in his affidavit.
Were he to withdraw his surety, the company would suffer irreparable harm, he asserts. To safeguard its business interests in Nigeria, and indirectly protect the credibility of the mother company internationally, the company convinced Raditladi to maintain his surety status in the case, at least until the company found a resolution. However, as the time for his departure loomed near, it emerged that the company had failed to settle the issue. At the same time, the EFCC had not concluded its investigation.
Wheretofore, says Raditladi, the two parties made a resolution that would serve both parties’ interests. The conditions of that agreement were that, among others, G4S would secure Raditladi’s replacement at the office and also in the personal cognisance to the EFCC. Secondly, until the company resolved the matter, Raditladi would not withdraw his personal recognisance.
In exchange, G4S would compensate Raditladi a monthly amount of 2 000 US dollars. Furthermore, Raditladi would remain a director of G4S Nigeria and related companies. Raditladi says it seemed that G4S subsequently failed to secure his replacement on personal recognisance which remains in place today.
Raditladi says although G4S met its obligation in a “hit and miss” fashion, the deal somehow stuck until January 2014 when the company dispatched a team to Gaborone where Raditladi is now located. In the meeting was Raditladi’s lawyer Munyaka Makuyana; Michael Druce, the MD in charge of Nigeria, Angola, Botswana and Namibia; and Renso Smit, the regional legal advisor for G4S Africa. Druce announced that they would end the 2 000 US dollar monthly payments to Raditladi and asked Raditladi to quit the board of the Nigerian subsidiary and its sister companies.
Raditladi says he was opposed to these moves, given that the company had not managed to find his replacement in the EFCC investigation. “For my part I asked for my release from the Economic and Finance Crimes Commission’s personal recognisance, referred to the fact that I too wished to move on with my life, but stated in clear express terms that I could not accede to G4S’ request whilst I remained exposed to a possible loss of my liberty,” he states in his affidavit.
He viewed, he says, the position of G4S very negatively. “I indicated that I deemed G4S’ conduct as being extremely cynical and immoral as I perceived its actions as being indicative of an attempt, now that its business interests were safe and I had become inconvenient to it, to discard me and leave me in the lurch,” he avers.
He says he was threatened by G4S officials when he maintained that he would hold G4S to the agreement that the two parties had entered into. By the meeting’s end, Raditladi says it was agreed that Druce would facilitate a trip, with or without Raditladi in attendance, to Nigeria at the end of February the same year where Druce would seek Raditladi’s release from his bail given to the EFCC.
There was no further communication from the company until when Raditladi enquired about the state of the intiative, whereupon he received an e-mailed response. But lo and behold, he was told that Druce would only travel to Nigeria to settle the EFCC matter once Raditladi had resigned his directorship. In April 2014, G4S stopped the monthly payments to Raditladi, prompting to write to the company warning them about the breach.
However, on 24 October last year – notable for being election day – the company replied indicating that they had removed Raditladi from the directorship of the Nigerian subsidiary and that they would no longer pay him 2 000 US dollars per month. It is this decision that prompted Raditladi to proceed to court to “sue for compliance”.
So on 4 November 2014, Raditladi served G4S with papers demanding that an order be imposed against the company to preclude it from exercising any control over its local assets, in this case a 70 percent stake in the Botswana subsidiary. There is no evidence that G4S challenged this application. A month and a few days later, on10 December 2014, as the good men and women at G4S were preparing for the busiest period of their year to protect homes abandoned by their owners so they may surrender to the whims of the season of excess, Botswana’s biggest security company received a court order against it. For a company listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange, it was a drastic decision. The shares of the mother company, G4S, would be held in control and supervision of the High Court of the Republic of Botswana.
On Wednesday last week, G4S finally reacted with a cautionary statement to its shareholders. “Shareholders are advised that the Company is considering developments relating to the granting of an order of the High Court of Botswana dated 10 December 2014 against the Company, the full impact of these developments is currently being determined and may have an effect on the price of the Company’s securities,” the statement said.
“Accordingly, shareholders are advised to exercise caution when dealing in the Company’s securities until a full announcement is made. The Company is of the view that the aforementioned order was erroneously granted and is taking immediate steps to resolve the matter. In addition, the Company has sought legal action against the relevant party.”
Analysts say the new saga may drive the company to its dark days of bad performance as investors hold back fearing the worst from the case. Equity Research Analyst at Imara Capital Botswana, Ngodya Chimbwete, argues that the court case could put pressure on the shares of the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) quoted security outfit. He notes G4S was starting to recover from three years of straight losses.
But the CEO of the Botswana subsidiary, Michael Kampani, differs. In his view, these are privately held shares that the court order can have no impact on. “We are currently busy with our lawyers trying to put everything to normalcy,” he says, with a firm belief that G4S will even see growth in performance this year.
While Raditladi knows very well that those Nigerian men and women of EFCC will “get you anywhere, any time.” He must be finding comfort in the fact that right here in Gaborone, the High Court of the Republic of Botswana has restrained his former employer. At least for now.