US issues chilling warning to Lesotho

‘If we detect fraud Lesotho will repay US MCC funds’

 

MATHATISI SEBUSI

MASERU – Should funds to be availed under the second Lesotho Compact of Millennium Challenge Corporation be lost to fraud or corruption, the government of Lesotho would be required to reimburse the US Government.

US Senior Director for Anti-Fraud and Corruption Christopher Williams gave the warning.

Williams also said if the funds are lost to fraud or corruption, not only would the benefits of the project be reduced, but Basotho taxpayer’s funds would be used to refund the US instead of being used in meeting Basotho’s needs.

He said fraud and corruption, especially on MCC-funded projects, are not “victimless crimes’’ because, as in all cases of fraud and corruption on development projects, not only are taxpayers’ funds misused, but there would be fewer benefits trickling down to the intended beneficiaries, the ordinary citizens.

For this reason, he said, the US government and Lesotho officials take the risk of fraud and corruption very seriously.

As part of preparations for Lesotho to get the funds for the MCC second compact, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) this week hosted a training session on anti-fraud and anti-corruption for the Lesotho Millennium Development Agency (LMDA).

The training is meant to strengthen the agency’s existing firewalls against corruption and to ensure that LMDA staff are ready to fulfil their responsibility to detect, report and prevent corrupt activities.

“Because fraud and corruption can happen anywhere, the United States Government requires all its departments and agencies to have a programme in place to reduce fraud and corruption.

“This policy extends to all programmes using MCC funds, including the LMDA-led efforts to develop a second MCC compact with Lesotho,” Williams said.

He said the training programme is the first step in the process of developing and implementing a corruption prevention programme.

“This is that same kind of a programme American companies doing business in other countries have been required to develop for decades and for which now 22 other countries require of their firms.

“The Anti-Fraud and Corruption action plan will promote both transparency and accountability, and updates will be published on an annual basis,” he said.

Williams further noted that both the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the Lesotho Millennium Development Agency (LMDA) believe with proper focus on anti-fraud and anti-corruption, the two agencies can ensure the highest level of effective use of US taxpayer resources that may fund the second compact and the highest possible impact for all Basotho.

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