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Finance PS suspended

by Lesotho Times
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. . . forced to abandon US trip after receiving suspension letter through email

By Keiso Mohloboli

MASERU — The Ministry of Finance Principal Secretary Mosito Khethisa (pictured) was suspended this week, forcing him to cut short his official trip to the United States of America.

Khethisa was attending a meeting in Washington DC when he received the suspension letter through electronic mail (email), which was sent by Government Secretary Motlatsi Ramafole.

Speaking to the Lesotho Times from Washington, Khethisa on Tuesday confirmed his suspension, adding he was now making efforts to change his flight arrangements and return home tomorrow.

The PS, who faces fraud and corruption charges in the courts alongside his former minister Timothy Thahane and businessman Mokhethi Moshoeshoe, had been expected to come back at the end of next week.
The Lesotho Times is reliably informed Khethisa would be arrested as soon as he lands at the Moshoeshoe 1 International Airport tomorrow.
“It is true that I have received my suspension through email. The mail says I have been suspended from my duties as Finance PS until my court case has been settled.
“Because of the suspension, I have been forced to come back to Lesotho before the end of the meeting I am currently attending in Washington DC.
“I was supposed to fly back at the end of next week, but now I have to change my flight schedule and I should be arriving in Maseru on Friday,” Khethisa said.
On his part, Government Secretary Ramafole confirmed sending Khethisa the suspension letter via email.
“I had to send it electronically because I am out of the country and he (Khethisa) was also out of the country,” Ramafole said. “The reason for the suspension pertains to the case before the court.”

Khethisa, Thahane, and Civa Innovations Management (Proprietary) Limited Director Moshoeshoe, are accused of defrauding government of over M19 million four years ago, and made their first appearance before the Maseru Magistrate’s Court on October 24 2013.

The fraud and corruption charges revolve around a wool and mohair project contract awarded to Civa Innovations on April 29, 2010, allegedly in contravention of the country’s procurement regulations.

The fraud charge reads: “The accused, sharing a common purpose, unlawfully, deliberately and with the intent to defraud, represented to the government of Lesotho or Ministry of Development Planning that an agreement entered into between the Ministry and Accused Three (Civa Innovations Management {Proprietary} Limited) on 29 April 2010, in respect of Wool & Mohair Product Development, complied with the Public Procurement Regulations of 2007. This was done with the intention that the ministry should act upon the said misrepresentation to its prejudice and to the prejudice of the government of Lesotho, by paying to the accused three sums totalling M8 379 070.50; M9 772 000.00 and M915 596.85 and did thus commit the crime of fraud.”

On bribery, the indictment reads: “On a date unknown to the Crown but before 29 April 2010, Accused Three (Civa Innovations) and Four (company director Moshoeshoe) corruptly offered a consideration to Accused One (Thahane) and Two (Khethisa), who corruptly agreed to accept such consideration in return for action in their official capacities as public officials — Accused One in his capacity as Minister of Finance and Development Planning and Accused Two as Principal Secretary.
“Such action by Accused One and Two was facilitating a contract between the government of the Kingdom of Lesotho, on the one hand, and Accused Three on the other, on 29 April 2010, in respect of Wool and Mohair Product Development. Such consideration was in the form of a share in the proceeds of funds received by Accused Three in respect of such contract.”

Meanwhile, both Khethisa and Moshoeshoe paid the M10 000 bail imposed by the court, while also securing the accompanying M100 000 surety, thereby gaining their freedom.

Thahane has since been fired as a cabinet minister due to the charges.

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