MASERU – The government of Lesotho has received M18 million, which is part of the money reportedly stolen by government officials from Treasury last year and stashed in South Africa.
The cheque for M18 million was handed over to minister of finance Thabo Sophonea by the Lesotho Mounted Police and the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) on Wednesday this week, as part of the ongoing recovery of funds from the said fraud scheme. A statement released by the ministry of finance confirms the money was part of the M50 million reported to have been fraudulently taken from government accounts last year.
The latest recovery was made through the assistance of the South African Asset Forfeiture Unit. Earlier this year, DCEO also managed to convince the courts to seize locally banked money and property, including vehicles and other highly priced items, from the accused members of the fraud team.
“On or around 6th September 2021, the Head of Reconciliation in the treasury department discovered some anomaly of numerous transactions that were in the bank statements (already paid) but not in the books of accounts. A case of fraud, theft and money laundering was opened with Lesotho Mounted Police Services,” reads the press statement. It further states that a team comprising LMPS, DCEO and the Financial Intelligence Unit was formed to investigate the matter.
As a result of the investigations, three officers from the treasury department and nine other people have since appeared in court charged with defrauding the government. The return of the said proceeds of criminal gain is one of the first to have taken place without much exchange between the two countries, whereas in the past such cases would have demanded numerous exchanges at legal and diplomatic levels.