. . . demands M10 million damages for lost business,
. . . accuses anti-graft body of routinely leaking information to destroy public figures’ reputations.
PROMINENT businessman, Mohopoli Isaac Monokoane, has launched a blistering attack on the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) for allegedly leaking their correspondence on social media.
The leaked correspondence relates to a case in which the DCEO requested information from the Hippo Transport owner relating to a M40 million tender that the company was awarded for the supply of fertiliser to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Marketing way back in 2015.
Mr Monokoane is now claiming M10 million damages from the DCEO for allegedly ruining his company’s reputation and the resultant loss of business he says they suffered due to the “unethical” leakage of the correspondence by the anti-graft body.
The DCEO’s letter to Mr Monokoane was written in English. But the latter wrote back, requesting a letter in Sesotho, saying this would enable him to better understand the anti-corruption body’s demands.
However, his letter was leaked to social media. He believes that the DCEO officials deliberately leaked his letter to invite public ridicule and scorn upon him.
He said he had since filed a M10 million damages claim against the DCEO in the High Court.
“As a sensitive and or delicate investigative institution of corruption and economic offences, the DCEO was duty bound to preserve secrecy of all information which came to the custody and or knowledge of its agents,” Mr Monokoane said in an interview with the Lesotho Times this week.
“Notwithstanding the statutory obligation of the DCEO, my letter was leaked and eventually displayed on social media and it was consequently subjected to public scrutiny contrary to section 39 of Prevention of Corruption and Economic Offences Act.
“The leakage of the confidential letter was wrongful and unlawful. It was a malicious endeavour on the part of the agents of the DCEO aimed at compromising the business interests and reputation of myself and the company that I lead. As a result of the DCEO’S utter breach of the law, Hippo Transport was severely compromised leading to significant losses in business and its trans-national portfolio was severely compromised as a result thereof.
“This wrongful and utter breach of the law by the DCEO and/ or its authorised agents caused substantial commercial damages to the company. It adversely affected the company’s reputation and resulted in the loss of business and prospective contracts to the tune of M10 million. These monies could have been secured through business dealings were it not for the unlawful actions of the DCEO,” Mr Monokoane said.
He said the DCEO had in turn filed corruption charges against him only because he had decided to sue the anti-corruption body.
He said his company’s lawsuit against the DCEO raised pertinent questions regarding the confidentiality of information sourced for the purposes of investigating suspected crimes.
“The lawsuit raises issues pertaining to the ethical conduct of agents of the DCEO and the ripple effects of the disclosures of information on commercial enterprises, public officials and politically exposed persons.
“As one commentator observed, over the past few years the DCEO has destroyed commercial enterprises and people’s careers. A trend of issuing letters interdicting the processing of payments to commercial enterprises on the flimsy grounds that such transactions are tainted with corruption has become the norm under the tenure of the current (suspended) DCO director general (Mahlomola Manyokole).
“Public figures like former (Standard Lesotho Bank CEO) Mpho Vumbukani, (retired) Justice Joseph Teboho Moiloa, former Chief Justice Nthomeng Majara and a law firm were all accused of having engaged in offences in an explosive affidavit filed in court by the director general as part of his efforts to stop a disciplinary hearing against him. In that affidavit, there were also explosive details regarding the Prime Minister (Moeketsi Majoro)’s alleged involvement in criminal activities. None of these allegations have been proven in a court of law,” Mr Monokoane said.
Contacted for comment, DCEO spokesperson, ‘Matlhokomelo Senoko, denied that the DCEO had leaked its correspondences with Mr Monokoane.
“It is not true that we leaked his letter. This is not the first time that he (Monokoane) has raised this issue. We investigated the matter and concluded that his letter was not leaked by the DCEO,” Ms Senoko said.