SA businessman Tim Marsland (53) – accused of fleecing nearly R280m from the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund in a money-laundering scam which spanned the region – is facing extradition and nearly 500 years of imprisonment if found guilty, says a Sunday Times report.

The businessman and former journalist, considered a fugitive by the Botswana Government, was arrested last month at OR Tambo International Airport while trying to board a flight to Germany. He was denied bail in the Kempton Park Magistrate's Court on Thursday after spending three weeks in a Johannesburg jail.

It is alleged Marsland, at the helm of investment firm Capital Management Botswana (CMB), was contracted to manage nearly R700m by the fund in 2016, with an agreement that the money would be bound for private equity investments in Botswana.

But according to Botswana's Directorate of Public Prosecutions, Marsland and CMB co-director Rapula Okaile surreptitiously ‘misappropriated’ 200m pula (about R274m) to acquire assets in Botswana and SA, and for personal gain.

The businessman had applied for bail while fighting the extradition process, but Magistrate Sagra Subroyen insisted he had been ‘economical with the truth’ – misleading the court on material aspects of his financial affairs, notes the Sunday Times report.

Using bank statements from his credit card and cheque account, Subroyen revealed how vast sums of money had passed through his hands, insisting it was clear that he was trying to drain his accounts with large deposits to unnamed individuals in an effort to establish a ‘nest egg’ while he was on the run.

Advocate Charles Thompson, for Marsland, said that given the urgent appeal of the bail ruling, it would be inopportune to weigh in on factual allegations.

‘We can state in so far as the impression is that Mr Marsland was fleeing SA, same is denied,’ he said.

‘He was en route to Germany for a business meeting, with a return flight booked to SA, with proof thereof having been provided to the satisfaction of the state.’

Full Sunday Times report (subscription needed)