Bakang Seretse has lost with costs the first leg in a multimillion pula money laundering case in which he is implicating the who’s who of this country.
His application was yesterday thrown out with costs by Justice Godfrey Radijeng. In delivering the verdict, the Judge said, “he has not in my view provided an answer or explanation as to the trail of payments that found the basis of the application other than to repeat what was already established by the applicant, the sourcing of the P250 million.”
The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on 13 December 2017 applied for an ex parte application against Seretse’s properties and credit account balances, and was granted the application. Seretse had later on December 28, through his attorney Kgosietsile Ngakaagae approached the court on urgency and applied for the order to be reversed.
But, Justice Radijeng would not entertain his plea. The judge noted in his ruling that the respondent has failed to disturb the applicant’s case, “and I must confirm the interim order granted.” “The interim order granted to the applicant on the 13th December 2017 in this instant is confirmed,” ruled the judge.
Judge Radijeng said the respondent had wrongly assumed the proceedings in the instant to be civil forfeiture proceedings. He said it was in this context that the respondent in his argument pursued an approach that sought to attack the application from civil forfeiture application requirements.
“The question in my view in restraint proceedings is not as portrayed by the respondent, that there must be elements of a crime established or the source of the funding and or actors in the trail of the funding…rather, the question is one of the standard of proof or level of evaluation required in such proceedings,” stated the Judge.
Judge Radijeng also noted that in his assessment of the totality of the evidence adduced by the applicant, he takes the view that the trail of transactions that ensued from the disbursement of the P230 million to Khulaco (Pty) which led to a chain of events constituted evidence which viewed objectively may reasonably be believed to constitute offences as indicated by the applicants in their papers.
These, the Judge said, were the alleged apparent conflict of interest by Seretse sitting on the one hand as director at Kgori (Pty) Ltd and at the same time director and shareholder at Khulaco (Pty) Ltd a company in which the government did not have a contract to transact with for purposes of the National Petroleum Fund; the alleged unilateral authorisation of funds from the fund by Kenneth Kerekang; and the alleged appointment of Kgori as the fund managers in the face of the alleged existing contract with the Department of Energy with Basis Points Capital (Pty)Ltd.
“I take the view that the respondents’ conduct and or the entities he represents, may be the subject of one or more offences as set out by the applicant.” In his arguments, Ngakaagae had argued that the transaction founding the disbursement of the said sum to Khulaco was an approved government transaction. He argued that there was no money laundering or fraudulent misappropriate of government money in the sum of P230 million.
He averred that if there was misappropriation of such funds then the Director General of the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS), Isaac Kgosi, and Permanent Secretary to the parent Ministry Dr Obakeng and the portfolio Minister Sadique Kebonang would have been charged alongside his clients.
On the other hand, the applicant attorney, Ernest Mosate of the DPP, submitted that the respondents were speaking to the wrong arguments hence failing to recognise that the purpose of the application for identification of tainted property which may be proceeds of or an instrument of serious crime related activity. He said the essence of his application was that there were violations regarding the P230 million in that they were taken outside laid procedures in violation of the statutes and Fund Order and or Penal Code provisions.
The background of the matter is that in the landmark case that Seretse and two other co-accused, Botho Leburu and Kenneth Kerekang were alleged to have between September, 05, 2017 and November, 27, 2017 in Gaborone, received over P320 million stolen from the National Petroleum Fund (NPF). The trio was granted bail by the Gaborone Regional Magistrate and will appear in court on January 25, 2018 for mention.
Over 2,000 civil servants in the public sector have been interdicted for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are criminal in nature.
According to reports, some officers have been under interdiction for more than two years because such matters are still being investigated. Information reachingÂ WeekendPostÂ shows that local government, particularly councils, has the highest number of suspended officers.
In its annual report, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) revealed that councils lead in corrupt activities throughout the country, and dozens of council employees are being investigated for alleged corrupt activities. It is also reported that disciplined forces, including the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), police, and prisons, and the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS) have suspended a significant number of officers.
The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has also recorded a good number of teachers who have implicated in love relationships with students, while some are accused of impregnating students both in primary and secondary school. Regional education officers have been tasked to investigate such matters and are believed to be far from completion as some students are dragging their feet in assisting the investigations to be completed.
This year, Mmadinare Senior Secondary reportedly had the highest number of pregnancies, especially among form five students who were later forcibly expelled from school. Responding to this publicationâ€™s queries, Permanent Secretary to the Office of the President Emma Peloetletse said, â€śas you might be aware, I am currently addressing public servants across the length and breadth of our beautiful republic. Due to your detailed enquiry, I am not able to respond within your schedule,â€ť she said.
She said some of the issues raised need verification of facts, some are still under investigation while some are still before the courts of law.
Meanwhile, it is close to six months since the Police Commissioner Keabetwe Makgophe, Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) Tymon Katlholo and the Deputy Director of the DIS Tefo Kgothane were suspended from their official duties on various charges.
Efforts to solicit comment from trade unions were futile at the time of going to press.
Some suspended officers who opted for anonymity claimed that they have close to two years while on suspension. One stated that the investigations that led him to be suspended have not been completed.
â€śIt is heartbreaking that at this time the investigations have not been completed,â€ť he toldÂ WeekendPost, adding that â€śwhen a person is suspended, they get their salary fully without fail until the matter is resolvedâ€ť.
Makgophe, Katlholo and Kgothane are the three most high-ranking government officials that are under interdiction.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and some senior government officials are abuzz with reports that President Mokgweetsi Masisi has requested his Vice President, Slumber Tsogwane not to contest the next general elections in 2024.
The impacts of climate change are increasing in frequency and intensity every year and this is forecast to continue for the foreseeable future. African CEOs in the Global South are finally coming to the party on how to tackle the crisis.
Following the completion of COP27 in Egypt recently, CEOs of Africa DFIs converged in Botswana for the CEO Forum of the Association of African Development Finance Institutions. One of the key themes was on green financing and building partnerships for resource mobilization in financing SDGs in Africa
A report; “Weathering the storm; African Development Banks response to Covid-19” presented shocking findings during the seminar. Among them; African DFI’s have proven to be financially resilient, and they are fast shifting to a green transition and it’s financing.
COO, CEDA, James Moribame highlighted that; “Everyone needs food, shelter and all basic needs in general, but climate change is putting the achievement of this at bay. “It is expensive for businesses to do business, for instance; it is much challenging for the agricultural sector due to climate change, and the risks have gone up. If a famer plants crops, they should be ready for any potential natural disaster which will cost them their hard work.”
According to Moribame, Start-up businesses will forever require help if there is no change.
“There is no doubt that the Russia- Ukraine war disrupted supply chains. SMMEs have felt the most impact as some start-up businesses acquire their materials internationally, therefore as inflation peaks, this means the exchange rate rises which makes commodities expensive and challenging for SMMEs to progress. Basically, the cost of doing business has gone up. Governments are no longer able to support DFI’s.”
Moribame shared remedies to the situation, noting that; “What we need is leadership that will be able to address this. CEOs should ensure companies operate within a framework of responsible lending. They also ought to scout for opportunities that would be attractive to investors, this include investors who are willing to put money into green financing. Botswana is a prime spot for green financing due to the great opportunity that lies in solar projects. ”
Technology has been hailed as the economy of the future and thus needs to be embraced to drive operational efficiency both internally and externally.
Executive Director, bank of Industry Nigeria, Simon Aranou mentioned that for investors to pump money to climate financing in Africa, African states need to be in alignment with global standards.
“Do what meets world standards if you want money from international investors. Have a strong risk management system. Also be a good borrower, if you have a loan, honour the obligation of paying it back because this will ensure countries have a clean financial record which will then pave way for easier lending of money in the future. African states cannot just be demanding for mitigation from rich countries. Financing needs infrastructure to complement it, you cannot be seating on billions of dollars without the necessary support systems to make it work for you. Domestic resource mobilisation is key. Use public money to mobilise private money.” He said.
For his part, the Minster of Minister of Entrepreneurship, Karabo Gare enunciated that, over the past three years, governments across the world have had to readjust their priorities as the world dealt with the effects and impact of the COVID 19 pandemic both to human life and economic prosperity.
“The role of DFIs, during this tough period, which is to support governments through countercyclical measures, including funding of COVID-19 related development projects, has become more important than ever before. However, with the increasingly limited resources from governments, DFIs are now expected to mobilise resources to meet the fiscal gaps and continue to meet their developmental mandates across the various affected sectors of their economies.” Said Gare.