Loot to go under hammer

Loot to go under hammer

Senate Sekotlo

MASERU – THE Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) will tomorrow auction property seized from people accused of corruption, money laundering and fraud.

The properties to be auctioned include buildings and cars.

Some of the properties up for sale belongs to one Makhathe Mankimane who together with his partner Nkeletseng Mokone allegedly defrauded First National Bank M700 000.

Another property that will go under the hammer is a Dodge Calibre and a BMW3 Series which the DCEO says were bought with stolen money.

Ntsoaki Maraisane and ’Madaniel Shakhane who are accused of stealing M18 million from Standard Lesotho Bank through an elaborate scheme has had their property confiscated.

Speaking at the auction venue yesterday, DCEO Director-General Borotho Matsoso said the anti-corruption unit is not biased when dealing with corruption.

“It doesn’t matter whether a person is in higher positions or not. We are like a lion catching its prey, we never let go until justice is served,” Matsoso said.

Quoting the words of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Matsoso said “corruption is a plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on societies”.

“It undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violation of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and allows organised crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish,” he said.

Matsoso said the DCEO is using the provisions of the Anti Money Laundering Act and Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act 4 of 2008 to seize properties bought with ‘dirty’ money while the criminal cases are pending in the courts.

“Asset forfeiture, confiscation, or recovery, have proved to be a viable and powerful strategy in the international community lately, insofar as combating corruption and related crimes is concerned,” Matsoso said.

“This is a relatively new and innovative strategy of fighting crime through civil litigation. By targeting the money that flows from the crime, it has the potential to make a huge difference, especially in those crimes that are primarily driven by profit”.

There are broadly two types of forfeiture used internationally to recover the proceeds of crime: First, “Conviction-based” forfeiture, and second “non-conviction-based” forfeiture.

“Convection based forfeiture depends on securing a conviction in a criminal trial. Its advantage is to invoke wide forfeiture powers,” he said.

“In the past, criminals committed crimes, went to jail and served sentences, unusually fewer years, and they came back to society to enjoy the benefits or proceeds of their unlawful activities,” he said.

“I am giving them a stern warning this time around, that has to stop. Gone are the days when criminals used to enjoy their “ill-gotten gains”. We are all out to make sure that crime does not pay.”

Matsoso said “laws have been improved and the agencies both regionally and globally are united strongly against crime”.

“Please stop corruption, stop money laundering, and stop all related crimes”.

He said criminals involved in these crimes are experts, people who know exactly what they are doing.

“Our Anti-Money Laundering Act gives us power to freeze and seize and confiscate proceeds and instrumentalities to the crown.”

If the proceeds are cash, it would be deposited into criminal assets recovery fund (“CARF”) held with one of our local banks.

“If it is a movable or immovable property, it would be sold or auctioned and the cash would be deposited into CARF. But in the event there is a victim of crime, such property is returned to the victim. In order for us to freeze, seize and confiscate, we make an application before the court of law.”

“Every Mosotho is allowed to bid for any auctioned properties except people who are related to people who have been accused or DCEO workers,” Matsoso said.

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