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Thahane to appear in court

by Lesotho Times

thahane-smallBy Billy Ntaote

MASERU — Former Minister of Energy and Water Affairs Timothy Thahane, who was this week fired from his cabinet post, will again appear in court today over two fraud charges    totaling more than M43 million maloti.

Thahane, and his co-accused in one of the fraud cases, is today expected to be further remanded out of custody after his initial court appearance on Monday.

At the Monday hearing, Thahane was released on M20 000 bail, representing M10 000 for each of the two fraud cases. He was also ordered to pay M200 000 surety for the two cases, representing M100 000 for each.

In the first case, Thahane is charged of defrauding the government of R19 million, together with Finance Ministry Principal Secretary Mosito Khetisa and Mokheti Moshoeshoe; a businessman and owner of Civa Innovations Management through a wool and mohair product development project.

In the second case, Thahane is charged of defrauding the government of R24 million in a block farming scheme that was meant to improve and boost agricultural produce in the country.

In this case Thahane, in his then capacity as Minister of Finance, is said to have, on June 6 2008, “wrongfully, unlawfully and with the intention to defraud” misrepresented to Standard Lesotho Bank that the block farming policy would also be applicable to vegetable farmers in addition to the grain crop farmers producing maize, sorghum and wheat, who were initially meant to be assisted under the policy.

Thahane is said to have misrepresented that such extension of the block farming policy had the endorsement of then Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili.

Thahane had promised to equally seek the endorsement of the then Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Lesole Mokoma.

Through this misrepresentation, Thahane is accused of inducing Standard Bank and the government of Lesotho to pay out sums totaling nearly M18 million to the vegetable farmers knowing “fully well . . . that the then Prime Minister had not endorsed the extension of the block farming policy in this manner and the he had no intention of seeking the endorsement of the then Minister of Agriculture and Food security.”

On another count of fraud relating to the block farming scheme, Thahane is accused of “wrongfully, unlawfully and with the intention to defraud, on diverse occasions, held out and pretended or misrepresented to Standard Bank that fuel supplied to Temo-‘Moho, totaling M6 076 502.68 was payable by Standard Lesotho Bank to the suppliers of the fuel, Engen Lesotho Limited, in terms of the government’s block farming policy.”

Through the alleged misrepresentation, Standard Bank is said to have paid the above amount to Engen Lesotho when in fact and with the full knowledge of Thabane the individual farmers had already paid out about M4,8 million to Temo-‘Moho, which had supplied them with the fuel and the latter company had remitted the money to Engen Lesotho.

In the first case involving the wool and mohair product development project, Thahane will today be joined in the dock by his co-accused Khethisa and Moshoeshoe.

The two had separately appeared in court last week without Thahane.

In this case, Thahane is accused of defrauding the government of Lesotho of the amounts of M8 379 070.50, M9 772 000 and M915 596.85.

Thahane and Khethisa are accused of unlawfully misrepresenting to the government of Lesotho that an agreement entered into by the Ministry of Finance and Mokhethi’s company complied with public procurement regulations of 2007.

Thabane and Khethisa are then accused of accepting a bribe from Moshoeshoe and Civa Innovations and Management, which is also separately charged as a company, in respect of facilitating the wool and mohair product development agreement. The share of the money Thabane and Khethisa allegedly received in this case in exchange of their facilitating the deal is not quantified in the charge sheet.

At his hearing on Monday Thahane was ordered not to interfere with Crown witnesses and to report to the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) every last Friday of every month.

Advocate Sefako Seema is representing the Crown while Advocate Qalehang Letsika is representing Thahane.

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