By NICK HEDLEY
Suspended Choppies Enterprises CEO Ramachandran Ottapathu has denied any wrongdoing and says he will challenge his suspension in court.
Ottaputhu was suspended with effect from May 22 amid a forensic investigation into past transactions involving the troubled retail group, and an investigation into its accounting practices. Shares in the Botswana- and JSE-listed company remain suspended over a delay in the publication of its financial results.
On Monday, Choppies said it would tell the market “in due course” why it suspended Ottaputhu, after he lashed out at the company and apparently called on shareholders to attend an unauthorised meeting. The group said its decision to suspend him “was as a result of an aggregation of activities and conduct”.
Ottapathu said in response that Choppies had failed to provide facts about the charges against him.
“This is simple character assassination which does not give me a chance to defend myself — I was suspended without notice and without a hearing,” he said in an e-mailed statement.
“I have said repeatedly that I have not been involved in material wrongdoing or that I benefited financially from any of the transactions which have now been under investigation since our shares were suspended almost a year ago.”
Ottapathu said he would challenge his suspension in court “at the soonest opportunity”. He said he had called on the board to convene an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders to tackle the issue. At such a meeting, he would propose that changes be made to the board “to ensure that it properly represents the interests of shareholders”.
Choppies said on Monday it had discovered an unauthorised notice to shareholders requesting the special meeting. While Ottapathu was entitled to request a general meeting, formal notice of such a meeting had to come from the board, it said. The board was considering its options, including a special meeting “called by the board of its own volition”. BusinessDay