28 January 2023 at 07:00:00
Nasdaq-listed Akanda may have exited Lesotho, but the Battle for Bophelo continues between lawyers in London as the company takes on its former chairperson Louisa Mojela over the unauthorized liquidation of its local subsidiary. Akanda says Bophelo's management team received excessive compensation for poor performance and wants to recover 900 000 British pounds.
BusinessCann reports that Akanda is counter-suing former chairperson Louisa Mojela for 900 000 British pounds over the controversial liquidation of its subsidiary Bophelo Bioscience and Wellness. It wants the payment from Mojela for “failing to fulfil her duties”.
Mojela last year lodged an unfair dismissal claim against Akanda for 1,8 million British pounds. This was after she and the then Akanda board were dismissed in May 2022 for destroying shareholder value.
Mojela then put Bophelo into liquidation in June 2022 in a move Akanda described as the action of a “rogue” former director. Akanda subsequently decided to abandon its Lesotho interests and fulfil its German medical cannabis orders from its Portuguese subsidiary Holgen.
In a further twist Virk was put on paid leave in November 2022 for personal and administrative reasons pending an “independent investigation being conducted by Canmart Directors and counsel” and that during his leave “Mr. Virk is not expected to perform any responsibilities as the Chief Executive Officer of the Company or any responsibilities as an officer of any of the Company’s subsidiaries.”
Canmart is Akanda’s wholly-owned UK medical distribution business.
Akanda director Katie Fields has been appointed Executive Director and “will provide interim management and the Company will continue to serve its customers, employees, and shareholders”.
In November 2022, BusinessCann reported that Akanda had made the decision to ‘cease involvement in Bophelo’s Lesotho operations’, following an extended legal battle with its former Executive Chairperson Mojela, for which the company recorded $2.3m (R48,3 m) in losses.
Akanda has claimed that Mojela put the company into liquidation as a ‘retaliation’ of her dismissal in June 2022, for which she is now suing the company.
In October 2022, Mojela launched legal action against Akanda, and its subsidiary Canmart, claiming that she was wrongfully fired after refusing to comply with an order to stop making transactions on behalf of Bophelo and sign over all accounts to Akanda’s CEO Tej Virk.
According to Akanda, Mojela’s refusal to comply with ‘reasonable’ demands justified her termination, alongside her mismanagement of ‘significant’ investments into Bophelo’s Lesotho operations.
The defence went on to say that Bophelo’s management team received ‘excessive compensation for poor performance, had no overall business plan and had no success in key markets’.
“It (Bophelo) had made significant losses, lost focus and was not seeking ways to put the company on a viable path to profitability: shareholders’ investments were being eroded.”