Ex-Liqhobong CEO up for fraud

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Pascalinah Kabi

FORMER Liqhobong Mine chief executive officer (CEO) Stuart Michael Brown on Tuesday appeared before the Maseru Magistrates’ Court to face charges of fraud in relation to the awarding of a mining tender to a company that was allegedly not registered in Lesotho.

Mr Brown, who stepped down from the post of CEO and director at Liqhobong Mine on 30 June this year, was hauled to the courts by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) this week. He was charged along with Basil Read Mining and he was released on M50 000 bail.

The DCEO accuses Mr Brown of misrepresenting to the Liqhobong Mine board that Basil Read Mining was registered in Lesotho, resulting in the latter being awarded a tender to carry out open pit mining operations in Lesotho.

The DCEO contends that Mr Brown was fully aware that Basil Read Mining was not registered in Lesotho and the misrepresentation by Mr Brown resulted in the company being awarded the tender on 28 June 2017.

The fraudulent acts were allegedly committed by Mr Brown in concert with Basil Read Mining after Liqhobong Mine published a notice inviting expressions of interests to tender for a contract to carry out open pit mining operations for Liqhobong Mine in October 2015.

The DCEO contends that at the time the contract was awarded to Basil Read Mining, the company had been deregistered and removed from the company register on or about 23 December 2014 and was therefore no longer legally in existence.

Despite this Mr Brown allegedly connived with Basil read Mining to mislead the Liqhobong Mine Board, thereby ensuring that Basil Read was awarded the contract on 28 June 2017, approximately six months before the company was legally registered in Lesotho.

“On 3 March 2017, accused 1 (Mr Brown), purporting to be Basil Read Mining, submitted in writing its expression of interest in response to the aforesaid notice and did so in the knowledge that Basil Read Mining no longer existed.

“In doing so accused 1 misrepresented to LMDC (Liqhobong) that B&E (Basil Read Mining) was a company domiciled and incorporated in terms of the laws of Lesotho and had company registration number 83/18.

“Acting upon such representation and on 28 June 2017 the board awarded the contract to B&E. On 1 November 2017 accused 2 signed a contract with BRL on behalf of LMDC, thereby holding out to LMDC and the Minister that this was the contract which had been awarded on 28 June 2017, whereas both accused and BRL well knew that the contract had been awarded to a non-existing entity and that the BRL only came into existence on 12 October 2017 which was after the award of the contract,” part of the court papers state.

Based on that evidence, the DCEO accuses Mr Brown and Basil Read Mining of committing the crime of fraud.

“On or about 28 June 2017 and in the district of Maseru, the two accused acting in common purpose with each other did unlawfully misrepresent with the intent to defraud members of the Board of LMDC, LMDC and the Minister, and to their prejudice, that B&E was an existing and registered company in Lesotho.

“They did thereby cause LMDC to award the contract to B&E, whereas in truth and in fact the accused well knew that B&E was no longer registered or in existence, and that accused 1 and or B&E were not eligible to be awarded the contract, and did thus commit the crime of fraud.”

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