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Bankers accused of M4 million fraud

by Lesotho Times

 standard-lesotho-200x150By Nat Molomo

MASERU — Two Standard Lesotho Bank employees have appeared in court over charges of defrauding the bank and its depositors of more than M4 million.

They allegedly made several false transactions between 2005 and 2007.

Matšeliso Rasethuntša, 49, and Molebatsi Mothae, 28, branch manager and teller respectively at Standard Bank’s branch in Mohale’s Hoek are charged with 18 counts of fraud or alternatively theft by false pretences.

The duo pleaded not guilty in the High Court before Justice Semapo Peete sitting with two assessors on Tuesday.

The two are said to have initiated several misrepresentations in which clients’ accounts would be debited on the basis of unauthorised transactions causing varying losses to those affected.

In one instance or example, Rasethuntša and Mothae are said to have falsely misrepresented to Standard Lesotho Bank that a cheque No. 060767 for the amount of one million and six thousand Maloti was “a good and honest one for the debit of” account No. 04100116733301 held by the Decentralisation of Local Authority (DLA) for payment to Standard Lesotho Bank.

The bank suffered a loss of that amount on its account, yet the two bank employees knew that there was no reason for the account of the DLA to be debited.

Crown Counsel Advocate Abraam Lenono told the court that the accused were arrested following a surprise audit by a team of auditors from the bank’s Maseru headquarters.

In some instances some of the bank’s customers were credited and debited without authority while in other cases the bank’s accounts were withdrawn without authority from the head office in Maseru.

Other discoveries made were that cash in the bank accounts had been unlawfully debited in suspense accounts and debited to pay for unauthorised withdrawals.

“The evidence will show that they were used by the two people to credit and debit the customers and themselves,” Lenono said.

He told the court the affected accounts indicate they were used for cash withdrawals or for reversing entries and this was done without corresponding evidence.

He said the crown will show by evidence that through such illegal transactions cheques were drawn in favour of other customers.

“The crown will show evidence that branch manager and teller before the court were involved in all this,” he said.

The trial continues.

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