Mohloai Mpesi and Seabata Mahao
At least M41million embezzled at the Ministry of Finance has been recovered while 10 suspects have been detained in relation to same.
This was said by the Commissioner of Police Holomo Molibeli earlier this week in a press briefing where he stated that the money had been fleeced through the use of ‘shell’ companies and bank transfers for personal use and gain.
Shell companies are said to be non-public entities that are formed to protect or hide another company’s assets. Existing only on paper, shell companies typically have no physical premises, employees, revenue, or significant assets, but may hold bank accounts or investments. They can be misused for illegal purposes and, in particular, as part of money laundering schemes.
The charged fraudsters include Ntšeliseng Lamane, 47, Mookho Rofono, 43, Lehlohonolo Selate, 40, Tlali Mokoaleli, 50, who works at the Ministry of Finance, Thabang Nkoe, Hlabathe Phafoli and Thithili Makhesi who joined yesterday as the eighth suspect in the matter.
According to Molibeli, ten suspects appeared before the Magistrate’s Court as police investigations are advancing towards completion. He said money and assets recovered sum up to M41m which is the M37 995 388.21 in money and M3 964 332.18 in assets; property and vehicles.
He continued that the Lesotho Mounted Police Services (LMPS) alongside the Directorate on Corruption, Economic Offenses (DCEO), Fraud Investigation Unit (FIU) and Lesotho Revenue Authority (LRA) are investigating the matter together, while some of the banks involved are from South Africa which have been cooperative during the investigations.
Prior to the developments, an order was granted by Justice Fumane Khabo a fortnight ago that the anti-corruption body DCEO should seize the assets and also freeze bank accounts. It is at least six bank accounts held at the Standard Lesotho Bank, Boliba Savings and Credit, Nedbank Lesotho and First National Bank that have been frozen including the account of the top lawyer, Rethabile Setlojoane. The seized asserts also include cars, land and mobile phone.
“In terms of section 88 (2) of the MLPCA and subject to the provision of the order, all persons with knowledge thereof are prohibited from disposing of, further encumbering, dissipating, interfering with, attaching or selling in execution, diminishing the value of or dealing in any other manner with the movable and immovable property to which this order relates,” the order reads.
“The moveable property shall remain under the effective control of Investigating Officer D/Sgnt Khobotlo of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service and the funds shall remain under custody and the effective control of the banks to wit, Boliba Savings and Credit, First National Bank and Standard Lesotho Bank until the expiration of this order in terms of section 90 of the MLPCA until conclusion of the forfeiture Application,” the order reads.
The amount of M79, 086, 40 held at Standard Lesotho Bank account number 9080000741090 belonging to Rethabile Setlojoane and M100 000.00 held at Standard Lesotho Bank account number 90800001267678 belonging to Plexus Suppliers as well as M50 000.00 held at Nedbank Lesotho account number 12990142325 belonging to Thabo Matlali were frozen.
Another M43 000.00 held at Standard Lesotho Bank account number 9080000699876 belonging to Montessori International School, M40 000. 00 held at First National Bank 62794744485 belonging to Mojalefa Rafono and a Hyundai Station Wagon (magnetic force) Engine no. D4HEMH7538843 belonging to Ntseliseng Lawrence were also seized.
The anticorruption unit also apprehended a 2010 Black VW Polo Engine number CGG-23873 belonging to Maatang Mokuena, 2004 White Honda Elysio, Chasis number CHS: RR-1008407, Engine no. K24A-6009576 belonging to Tokelo Selala, 2006 White Honda Elysion Engine no. K24A-6115350 belonging to Chejane Selate and a Charcoal 2011 A7Audi Quadro S Line Engine no. CYW021877 Chasis no. WAUZZ4G5CN042676 belonging to Lehlohonolo Selate as well as White A3 Audi Engine no. CAX255231 belonging to Bokang Manaka.
The apprehension further included an Ipad 32G s/n DMPF22NUQ1GC, OPPO mobile phone s/n 0ZSSDM06AAAIEEMJ belonging to Mookho Rafono and immovable Property Lease number 1129-1082 situated at Thetsane belonging to Bokang Manaka.
The Senior Superintendent Piti Khutlang added that, the police have frozen some of the bank accounts while some of the money has been used to pay the lawyers who were hired to buy property in South Africa and some of the money was kept in the neighbouring South African banks. He added that the police are working with the South African authorities to retrieve the money.
“Some of the money was used to buy properties and cars in the country which are currently being repossessed. The money that is being retrieved is being transferred into the government account for court proceeds and evidence,” Khutlang said.
He also mentioned that the money was transferred and used in different places for different purposes by different people so as the police they are still tracing it until the last cent is recovered.