South African banks, Nedbank and Absa, have vehemently criticized state evidence against one DIS agent code named “Butterfly” or Welheminah Maswabi in a case in which she is alleged to be responsible for P4.2 billion that went missing at the Bank of Botswana.
The case also implicates former President Ian Khama and former DIS director general Isaac kgosi. Khama has since disposed an affidavit in support of Maswabi rubbishing the State case and registering a ‘come get me’ attitude. Welheminah Maswabi was earlier last month arrested on three counts; financing terrorism (on account of claims that she transferred from an offshore account the sum of P29 million to former DIS spy Chief Isaac Kgosi, in January this year); possession of different passports and; falsifying her names to Lorato Hilton.
Upon her arrest, Maswabi made an application with the Gaborone High Court for bail which was denied without doubt, as the State found her a possible flight risk. The State brought laden evidence against the accused after the court was told that the accused had an enormous sum of P360 million in her different personal accounts. Maswabi- in her personal capacity was also allegedly accused as one of the signatories of Blue Files (PTY) Ltd.’s Royal Bank of Scotland, a bank account held in S.A facilitated the commission of an act of terrorism by transferring an amount of 950000. 00 American Dollars to Isaac Seabelo Kgosi, who earlier this year upon his arrest threatened to commit acts of terror against Botswana.
The State brought before courts bank statements that showed how the money was transferred from on offshore account to another. They further sought with the court to be given time to seek legal assistance for admissible evidence which will be used during trial. This publication is in possession of affidavits from the alleged banks denying any knowledge or trace of the alleged bank accounts.
In their opposing affidavit, Nedbank states that “the opposing affidavit references accounts in the names of Blue Files (Pty) Ltd and Fire Flies (Pty) Ltd, are non-existent accounts. After conducting a search on our Nedbank systems, we have been unable to find any accounts in those names, nor any accounts with the mentioned account numbers.” Absa Bank also denied having any record of any account with designated account numbers nor account names. They further inquired that the document obtained by the State as evidence does not appear as Absa generated document.
One of the investigators engaged by Maswabi’s legal representatives, Johaan Minaar has also revealed in a report possessed by this publication that the emails used by the State as evidence against the accused are also fraudulent, based on the vast differences between the attached email and those which are relied upon by the High Court. The report alleged that the messages attached as evidence by the State appear to be fraudulent, as they could very easily have been produced by a word processor such as Microsoft Word, in order to provide veneer of authenticity to those emails which are relied on in the High Court.
The investigation company pointed out that unless the original electronic version of the email messages set out as annexures to the High Court application can be produced and authenticated, the annexures have no evidentiary values presented as they are presented to the relevant Tribunal in isolation as the original source data/document is not available for verification, further scrutiny and examination.
Upon establishing whether or not Royal Bank Scotland, Blue Files Inc. and Fire Flies were South African registered companies, the investigating team could not positively verify the entities. They however stated that they conducted searches on two public registries, namely the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission in South Africa and Dun & Bradstreet (a similar registry in Botswana) and the search strings submitted to conduct such queries were as follows; Royal Bank, Blue File and Fire File.
Khama Labels claims against Maswabi as Nonsensical
Former President Lieutenant General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama, being one of those implicated in the matter, also testified against the State labelling the allegations as false, fictitious and clearly nonsensical. In his written affidavit he denies ever instructing the Bank of Botswana whilst serving as the President of Botswana, to open any special unit accounts. He further denied any knowledge of instruction by Kgosi instructing Bank of Botswana to open any account.
“I expect in any banking environment or in any financial institution, instructions of the nature alleged by Hubona must necessarily be recorded for, among many reasons, audit evidence. It would therefore be very easy for the State to obtain evidence of such instruction and disclose it to the court.” Khama warned the Court in his affidavit-that in support of which application he is advised- that his affidavit will be used, the court should know that Mr. Jako Hubona’s conduct of fabricating evidence is actually his personality and character trait.
Hubona has allegedly according to Khama once fabricated evidence by adding extrinsic content to a witness’s sworn statement under a criminal case that was before the Regional Magistrate for the Gaborone Magisterial Region. Jako Hubona is the investigating officer at the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) in the matter. Maswabi will once again appear before court on the 27th of November 2019.
SA businessman responds – INK CJ
Meanwhile a South African businessman also implicated in the alleged scam Kgomotso Prince Mokgatlha, of Bassonia Estate in Johannesburg, is accused [in an affidavit filed by the state in the prosecution of intelligence operative, Welheminah Mphoeng Maswabi] of partnering with Kgosi in a company that allegedly received multi million dollars from Botswana.
Mokgatlha said he is a sole signatory of Kgetha Pty Ltd and that he has never met Kgosi or Maswabi. Prosecutors however argue in court papers that Kgosi became a signatory of Kgetha on the 12th of February 2019 with the help of a banker known as Mpule Konopi at Standard Bank. Prosecutors further say Kgetha’s account No. 200904299 was credited with $48 million on the 21st of February 2019. In September 2019 Directorate of Public Prosecution interviewed Mokgatlha in South Africa.
“They were clueless. First they gave me a wrong account number,” he says, arguing further that there is no how that amount of money could have been cleared to his account without the South African Reserve Bank knowing about it. “My account does not have CFC (Customer Foreign Currency) account. Legally all this will not suffice. I found your guys wanting.” He also took the matter into his hands. “I also went to inquire at Forex (Foreign Exchange department at Standard Bank) about the alleged money. They said I don’t have $48 million. There is nowhere Kgosi could have signed in my account.”
Just to be on the safe side, he will never set foot in Botswana even if his name could be cleared. “Your country is nothing but a headache. I have declared myself persona non grata. He finds the current leadership immature and vindictive. “I was born in 1966, but I think I am more mature than your country.” The state cites internal documents from Bank of Botswana that detail 60 transactions between 2008 and 2019 involving more than 12 offshore accounts.
The documents allegedly show that Khama and Kgosi funneled more than $400-million to countries including Indonesia, South Africa, Britain, Scotland, the United States and Hong Kong with Maswabi’s help. The court papers allege that in June 2008, Khama instructed Botswana’s central bank to open three secret accounts and deposited in excess of P908-million (US$90 million) in one, P700 000 000.00 ($70-million) in the second, and P592 million ($60 million) in the third. The Bank of Botswana Act does not permit a president to interfere with business of the reserve bank. (Ink Centre for Investigative Journalism)
Government is currently sitting on 4 400 vacant posts that remain unfilled in the civil service. This is notwithstanding the high unemployment rate in Botswana which has been exacerbated by the recent outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
Just before the burst of COVID-19, official data released by Statistics Botswana in January 2020, indicate that unemployment in Botswana has increased from 17.6 percent three years ago to 20.7 percent. “Unemployment rate went up by 3.1 percentage between the two periods, from 17.6 to 20.7 percent,” statistics point out.
Leading commercial bank, First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), expects the central bank to sharpen its monetary policy knife and cut the Bank Rate twice in the last quarter of 2020.
The bank expects a 25 basis point (bps) in the beginning of the last quarter, which is next month, and another shed by the same bps in December, making a total of 50 bps cut in the last quarter. According to the bank’s researchers, the central bank is now holding on to 4.25 percent for the time being pending for more informed data on the economic climate.
An audit of the accounts and records for the supply of food rations to the institutions in the Northern Region for the financial year-ended 31 March 2019 was carried out. According to Auditor General’s report and observations, there are weaknesses and shortcomings that were somehow addressed to the Accounting Officer for comments.
Auditor General, Pulane Letebele indicated on the report that, across all depots in the region that there had been instances where food items were short for periods ranging from 1 to 7 months in the institutions for a variety of reasons, including absence of regular contracts and supplier failures. The success of this programme is dependent on regular and reliable availability of the supplies to achieve its objective, the report said.
There would be instances where food items were returned from the feeding centers to the depots for reasons of spoilage or any other cause. In these cases, instances had been noted where these returns were not supported by any documentation, which could lead to these items being lost without trace.
The report further stressed that large quantities of various food items valued at over P772 thousand from different depots were damaged by rodents, and written off.Included in the write off were 13 538 (340ml) cartons of milk valued at P75 745. In this connection, the Auditor General says it is important that the warehouses be maintained to a standard where they would not be infested by rodents and other pests.
Still in the Northern region, the report noted that there is an outstanding matter relating to the supply of stewed steak (283×3.1kg cans) to the Maun depot which was allegedly defective. The steak had been supplied by Botswana Meat Commission to the depot in November 2016.
In March 2017 part of the consignment was reported to the supplier as defective, and was to be replaced. Even as there was no agreement reached between the parties regarding replacement, in 51 October 2018 the items in question were disposed of by destruction. This disposal represented a loss as the whole consignment had been paid for, according to the report.
“In my view, the loss resulted directly from failure by the depot managers to deal with the matter immediately upon receipt of the consignment and detection of the defects. Audit inspections during visits to Selibe Phikwe, Maun, Shakawe, Ghanzi and Francistown depots had raised a number of observations on points of detail related to the maintenance of records, reconciliations of stocks and related matters, which I drew to the attention of the Accounting Officer for comments,” Letebele said in her report.
In the Southern region, a scrutiny of the records for the control of stocks of food items in the Southern Region had indicated intermittent shortages of the various items, principally Tsabana, Malutu, Sunflower Oil and Milk which was mainly due to absence of subsisting contracts for the supply of these items.
“The contract for the supply of Tsabana to all depots expired in September 2018 and was not replaced by a substantive contract. The supplier contracts for these stocks should be so managed that the expiry of one contract is immediately followed by the commencement of the next.”
Suppliers who had been contracted to supply foodstuffs had failed to do so and no timely action had been taken to redress the situation to ensure continuity of supply of the food items, the report noted.
In one case, the report highlighted that the supplier was to manufacture and supply 1 136 metric tonnes of Malutu for a 4-months period from March 2019 to June 2019, but had been unable to honour the obligation. The situation was relieved by inter-depot transfers, at additional cost in transportation and subsistence expenses.
In another case, the contract was for the supply of Sunflower Oil to Mabutsane, where the supplier had also failed to deliver. Examination of the Molepolole depot Food Issues Register had indicated a number of instances where food items consigned to the various feeding centres had been returned for a variety of reasons, including food item available; no storage space; and in other cases the whole consignments were returned, and reasons not stated.
This is an indication of lack of proper management and monitoring of the affairs of the depot, which could result in losses from frequent movements of the food items concerned.The maintenance of accounting records in the region, typically in Letlhakeng, Tsabong, and Mabutsane was less than satisfactory, according to Auditor General’s report.
In these depots a number of instances had been noted where receipts and issues had not been recorded over long periods, resulting in incorrect balances reflected in the accounting records. This is a serious weakness which could lead to or result in losses without trace or detection, and is a contravention of Supplies Regulations and Procedures, Letebele said.
Similarly, consignments of a total of 892 bags of Malutu and 3 bags of beans from Tsabong depot to different feeding centres had not been received in those centres, and are considered lost. These are also not reflected in the Statement of Losses in the Annual Statements of Accounts for the same periods.