Choppies said it was disappointed by the "unfortunate and intemperate comments" attributed to or made by suspended CEO Ramachandran Ottapathu.

JOHANNESBURG  - The board of directors of Botswana supermarket chain Choppies said on Monday it was disappointed by the "unfortunate and intemperate comments" attributed to or made by suspended CEO Ramachandran Ottapathu.

Last month Ottapathu said his suspension was a consequence of personal differences with some members of the board and retaliation for his proposal to introduce a much-needed governance change within Choppies and the board itself, adding that he was confident he would be vindicated of wrongdoing.

On Monday the board said it was necessary to dispel Ottapathu's allegations.

"In fact, the decision by the board to suspend Mr Ottapathu was as a result of an aggregation of activities and conduct by the suspended CEO," it said in a statement sent via the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, where Choppies has a secondary listing in addition to its primary listing on the Botswana bourse.

"These will in due course be made known to shareholders, once the various investigations referred to in previous announcements by the company are completed."

"In the meantime, the board advises shareholders that ... the suspension was and is valid and proper (and) the suspended CEO’s rights and entitlements under Botswana law have not been infringed and remain protected as would those of any employee of the company."

The Choppies board said Ottapathu remained an employee of the company during his suspension and therefore such rights and entitlements did not extend to unauthorised disclosures by him of confidential information which may form the basis of disciplinary proceedings against him.

It said it was aware that a document purporting to be a draft notice of an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) of Choppies shareholders had      apparently been sent by Ottapathu or on his behalf in his capacity as a shareholder to select shareholders.

"The board advises shareholders that it has not authorised the issuance or circulation of any such EGM notice. Whilst Mr Ottapathu is entitled to requisition an EGM subject to meeting the requirements of the Companies Act, formal and proper notice of such an EGM must come from the board," it said.

Shareholders would be apprised of the board’s decision in due course, it added.

Although Choppies, which also has stores in Zimbabwe and South Africa and has a second listing on the Johannesburg stock exchange, has not said  why it suspended Ottapathu, the move came amid legal and forensic investigations at the company.

- African News Agency (ANA)