THE Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO)’s preliminary investigations into the abortive 2018 M1, 7 billion solar energy deal between Frazer Solar and the Lesotho government have shown that the deal was marred by corruption right from the beginning.
DCEO acting Director General, Sefako Seema, makes the claim in a confidential 9 June 2021 letter to then acting Attorney General, Ntebaleng Morojele, who has since been replaced by Advocate Rapelang Motsieloa.
Adv Seema’s letter has been attached to the Lesotho government’s Gauteng High Court application for a stay in the execution of the same court’s order endorsing a South African arbitration award for £50 million (M856 million) damages to Frazer Solar. The damages are for the government’s alleged breach of a 2018 contract the German company claims to have entered into with the previous Thomas Thabane-led government for the supply of solar water heating systems, solar generated electricity, LED lights and solar lanterns over four years.
Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro was finance minister at the time of the deal. He had refused to sign the financing agreement for the implementation of the project.
However, Frazer Solar insists it had a valid agreement that was signed on behalf of the Lesotho government by then Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Temeki Tšolo.
The DCEO began probing the botched deal in the aftermath of the Gauteng High Court’s April 2021 judgement in favour of Frazer Solar.
In his June 2021 letter to Adv Morojele, the acting DCEO boss Seema says the supply agreement was signed by people who did not have the authority to sign the contract.
“This matter was reported by yourself (Morojele) alleging inter alia that the supply agreement was done corruptly and in contravention of the laws of the Kingdom,” Adv Seema states.
“Furthermore, the arbitration documents issued against the government of Lesotho were deliberately withheld from the Prime Minister (Majoro) and or the office of the Attorney General.
“The intention, allegedly by some public servants acting in concert with Mr (Robert) Frazer, was to deny the Attorney General information regarding that corrupt agreement and secondly so that default judgement may be entered against government thereby causing government financial loss.
“Our investigations have thus far revealed a series of frauds in the whole process of signing the contract as it is allegedly signed by people with no authority to sign and witness the contract. On the alleged concealment of the arbitration papers, both the Attorney General (Morojele) and the Right Honourable the Prime Minister (Majoro) claim they were neither served nor informed of the papers despite being the only authorities empowered to deal with such. Our investigations further reveal that all these were done deliberately, further investigations are ongoing. (sic).”
Although he does not mention any names, Adv Seema says they have identified the individuals behind the “corrupt and fraudulent” deal.
“Our preliminary information has led us to identifiable individuals whom I need not disclose to preserve and avoid compromise to our continuing investigations. (sic). But what is evident is that the whole enterprise was fraudulent and aimed at prejudicing the government financially, with the individuals standing to benefit from these corrupt activities.
“We have not yet made any arrests or put anyone before the magistrates’ court. What I can confirm to you is that there is a clear case of corruption and fraud perpetrated against the government by some government officials working in collaboration with other individuals from abroad. We are at your disposal for any further clarification as you may require,” Adv Seema states.
This has been seized upon by Dr Majoro who submitted an affidavit to the Gauteng High Court, saying the DCEO’s preliminary findings had shown that there was indeed a clear case of corruption and fraud against the government by some officials working in collaboration with “individuals from abroad”.
“The DCEO has confirmed that its preliminary view, following its investigations thus far, is that this is a clear case for corruption and fraud perpetrated against the Kingdom by some officials working in collaboration with individuals from abroad.
“…it must be emphasised that up until May 2021, when the investigation was conducted, I and the Lesotho government were not aware of the critical information underlying this matter. It appears that information may have been deliberately concealed in pursuit of a corrupt purpose,” Dr Majoro says.
Although Dr Majoro does not name the government officials, he does however, accuse Mr Tšolo of signing the supply agreement with Frazer Solar in 2018.
He further accuses Mr Tšolo of signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Frazer Solar four days after he had advised that the MOU could not be signed before government officials “make sense out of this”.