M17 million fraud suspects shoot to 14

M17 million fraud suspects shoot to 14

MASERU – THE number of suspects involved in a case in which two senior officials of the Movement for Economic Change (MEC) are charged with theft of M17 million has ballooned to 14, thepost heard this week. The case has now been moved from the magistrates’ court to the High Court.
This is because the matter is a high profile case.
Two MEC senior officials who were nabbed in connection with the fraud are the National Executive Committee treasurer, Makhetha Thaele, and the youth league secretary general Qetella Moletsane.

Police’s Commercial Crimes commander Senior Inspector Sera Makharilele, told the court in papers that on or about November 9, 2018 there were suspicious transactions which were of the value beyond transaction threshold per Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act of 2008.
The transactions were in bank accounts of 10 suspects and they followed a certain pattern.
S/Insp Makharilele said their investigations revealed a trail of those suspicious transactions that emanated from the Recurrent Expenditure Account held by sub-accountancy offices in Leribe, Thaba-Tseka and Mohale’s Hoek.

The transactions were allegedly rendered by an employee of Standard Lesotho Bank, ’Mamothibeli Titi.
Titi allegedly enabled the funds to be transferred to different accounts of the suspects.
Makharilele said investigations at the sub-accountancy offices revealed that there were no authorised withdrawals or payments to the suspects from the recurrent expenditure.
He told the court that the banks have provided the statements which disclose suspicious transactions and huge spending by the suspects in both Lesotho and South Africa by money flowing directly from Sub Accountancy into their accounts.

This left the police with reasonable suspicion that the government’s money held by the sub accountancies had been stolen hence the criminal prosecution.
The Counter Commercial Crime Unit, Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General are the applicants in this case.

The court heard that there were sufficient grounds to believe that the property was tainted property. They believed the transfer of monies was fraudulently made by some respondents from Sub Accountancy recurrent expenditure account to the respondents’ accounts without consent and knowledge of the Sub-accountancy.
Further, Sub accountancy did not owe any money for any service rendered by the respondents.

Makharilele informed the court that the trail of the suspected stolen money revealed that the funds are placed in different accounts held by respondents who transfer and withdraw the illicitly obtained money in different accounts and at short intervals by the 11th to 14th respondents in Lesotho and South Africa to obscure the audit trail.
He argued that the respondents are reasonably believed to enjoy benefits directly and indirectly from the commission of the offence as some of the suspected proceeds of crime had been integrated into the economy by buying expensive items like cars, car parts, liquor, fuel and furniture both in Lesotho and South Africa.

The 1st to 10th respondents were reasonably suspected to have committed theft of the money from Sub accountancy as a predicate offence to money laundering, the court heard.
Makharilele said the arrests had been made and some of the respondents were formally charged before courts and are still awaiting trials whilst some suspects are still on the run.

The court was informed that description of property against which the restraining order is sought is money suspected to have been stolen from recurrent expenditure account held by the Sub accountancy to the tune of M17 785 969.09 which is currently held in several accounts beneficially owned by the respondents whilst some of it has already been expended.
It was also heard that there is a reasonable belief that the money is tainted and is still under effective control of the respondents in the following accounts.

Majara Molupe

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