John Xie’s big lie exposed

John Xie’s big lie exposed

MASERU – YAN ‘John’ Xie, a controversial Chinese businessman with strong links to Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, allegedly used local fronts to win multimillion maloti government tenders.
But when he got his payment he spirited away the money and refused to pay his pawns their share of the spoils.
Now one of the fronts, Jerry Molefe Liefo, is demanding “his fair share”.

Liefo, from Khubetsoana, says John used him as a front in a M7 million-contract to supply park homes to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The deal has now turned sour, amid allegations of corruption and fraud that have since attracted the Public Accounts Committee (PAC)’s attention.
Liefo claims John gave him 51 percent shareholding in Legends Construction, the company at the centre of the scandal. Legends Construction’s initial shareholders were ’Maamohelang Letsie and Monaheng Letsie who have 245 shares each out of 1 000 total shares.

The structure changed when the company won the tender.
Unable to find the money to buy the park homes, ’Maamohelang Letsie and Monaheng Letsie ran to John.
The PAC has been told that the Home Affairs’ principal secretary, ’Machabana Lemphane-Letsie, is said to have advised Legends Construction’s directors to approach John.
John allegedly provided the funds through one of his companies, Bafani Construction, but demanded 51 percent of Legends Construction to protect his investment.
With John’s help Liefo then acquired the 51 percent on behalf of Bafani Construction.
Liefo says at that time he was working as John’s driver.

The park homes were bought and the invoices were submitted to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
It was only a few months later that Legends Construction’s shareholders discovered that the ministry had paid but the company’s account had been emptied.
Somehow John had managed to transfer the M7 million from the account without their knowledge. The company directors told the PAC that they suspected fraud.

Legend Construction has since sued both the Home Affairs Ministry and John Bafani Construction, seeking to recover the money.
Liefo told thepost last week that he did not sign for the withdrawal of the money despite that he is legally the majority shareholder and a director.
He said after Legend Construction sued, John’s brother-in-law, only identified as Sam, called him and promised to pay him M100 000 if he could say he was the one who authorized the withdrawal from Legend Construction’s account.

“He was asking me for a helping hand in defeating Legend Construction as I am the face of John’s 51 percent shares,” Liefo says.
“Sam vowed to give me M100 000 if I come and help testify that I signed for the withdrawal of Legend Construction money.”

“They wanted me to sign some papers so that it seems like I was the one who made the withdrawal as the majority shareholder.”
“I contacted Legend Construction and told them everything. I refused to be on John’s side,” he said, adding that John used him “like a nappy”.
“I am expecting money as I have controlling shares of the company, legally. I am a shareholder but I have never been part of the meetings.”
Liefo said this is not the first time John has used him as a front.

He talks about Thabong Holding (Pty) Ltd, a company whose initial shareholders were John’s two employees, Teboho Mothebesoane and Bernard Ntaote.
In January 2018 John transferred the ownership of Thabong Holding to Liefo and one Luka Phahlang, each holding 500 shares of the total of 1000.
Liefo said in 2018 December Thabong Holding won a M24 million tender to supply a toothpick-making machine to the Ministry of Small Businesses.
“They won the tender and received a lot of money but never gave me even a cent,” Liefo claims.

“I have been crying silently for all this time because I was afraid of losing my job”.
“I was a driver of John everywhere while he still expected me to do other jobs including managing his fleet of shop vehicles,” he says.
He says he was driving for John after his appointment as the Prime Minister’s economic adviser, driving the government car.
“I used to drive him even to OR Tambo Airport, he even used to make me sleep in the car while he sleeps in the comfort in hotels,” he says.
“I used to claim for things like his accommodation and petrol.”

He however complains that John was not paying him for driving the government car.
“I want my salary for driving for Xie, he did not pay me for driving that government car everywhere. He has been using me like a disposal nappy and now he has thrown me away”.
thepost tried to contact John for eight days but officials at his office said he was out of the country.

One of the most controversial businessmen in Lesotho, John has strong links with Thabane and other politicians. Politicians in both the government and the opposition are said to have benefited from his campaign funding. Over the years he has snapped up several government contracts under circumstances that some have described as highly dubious.
In 2017 Thabane appointed him to be his special trade advisor on Asia.

Nkheli Liphoto

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