Moneylending firm fleeced of M4.9 million

Moneylending firm fleeced of M4.9 million

MASERU – A local moneylending firm lost M4.9 million to a syndicate of 17 people led by some of its senior employees.
Tšepo Financial Services (TFS) could be facing collapse as a result of the fraud which appeared to have gone on for years.
The 17, who are facing fraud and money laundering charges, appeared in the Maseru magistrate’s court yesterday.

But while they are fighting the criminal charges, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) is moving to confiscate the properties they bought using their alleged loot.
The DCEO is seeking an order to attach eight cars, plots and houses it alleges the suspects bought with the money from Tšepo Financial Services.
The anti-corruption unit is arguing that the 17 should not be allowed to benefit from their alleged crime.

During the criminal trial the court heard how the 17 worked out an elaborate scheme to steal from Tšepo Financial Services.
Their alleged method was to create fictitious companies and employees who would “borrow” from Tšepo Financial Services.
Police Constable Rorisang Mohlakola told the court in an affidavit that Tšepo Financial Services entered into Loan Scheme Agreements with 14 companies, some of which “were fictitious and non-existent”.

“It was established that the purported owners or representatives of the companies would forge pay slips and confirmation letters of employment in support of the loan application by purported recruited employees to TFS,” Constable Mohlakola said.
It appears that the syndicate was led by Rorisang Lekopa who was Tšepo Financial Services’ marketing consultant. Lekopa is alleged to have worked closely with Poloko Mohapi, who she was supervising as a marketing officer.

Together they would process the loan applications and make the payments.
The other 15 people who were in on the scheme posed as either employees or directors of the fake companies.
Some of the suspects were directors and employees of legitimate companies.

“It was to the effect that the syndicate would either impersonate an employer or a representative of an employer of both fictitious or existing companies by creating false payslips, employment letters and using illiterate random individuals from the street behaving as genuine employees to obtain loans from TFS,” he said.
In other cases random strangers from the streets would be used to collect money from Tšepo Financial Services.
A portion of the fraudulent loans would be retained and subsequently utilized to repay loans on scheduled monthly basis. The number of employees of a company would increase significantly, the court heard.

To cover its tracks the syndicate would increase the number of employees at the companies so that they keep borrowing.
The ‘new employees’ would then receive loans, part of which would be used to repay the loans off the previous dubious loans.
That way Tšepo Financial Service’s management was under the impression that the company was doing well when it was being slowly plundered by the syndicate.

The court heard that the crime was only discovered last May when Tšepo Financial’s operations manager Motena Lishea noticed that Lekopa was showing keen interest in paying two companies earlier than planned. His investigations revealed several inconsistences that pointed to fraud. He discovered that some most of the loan applicants did not exist and the companies were fake.

Staff Reporter

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