…as tables are turned against German company in controversial M1, 7 billion solar deal
FRAZER Solar boss, Robert Frazer, is wanted by the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) for alleged fraud.
This in connection with the abortive 2018 M1, 7 billion solar energy deal between the German company and the previous Thomas Thabane-led government.
The Lesotho Times has established that the warrant was issued in April this year by the Maseru Magistrates’ Court. Despite this, no action has been taken against the German-based Mr Frazer. The police are claiming ignorance about the warrant.
The arrest warrant states that “there are reasonable grounds of suspicion that Robert Frazer did commit the crime of fraud” and he should be “apprehended and brought before the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Offences offices in Maseru, Lesotho to be examined and answer to the said information (fraud), and to be further dealt with according to the law”.
The signature on the warrant is not legible enough to show which particular magistrate granted it.
Although she would not say which magistrate issued the warrant, DCEO spokesperson, ’Matlhokomelo Senoko, this week confirmed its authenticity.
“Yes, we have a warrant for Robert Frazer’s arrest for fraud. He has a case to answer before the DCEO,” Ms Senoko said in an interview.
“The warrant was submitted to the police after it was granted by the magistrates’ court. We will follow up the matter with them,” she added.
In a separate interview, deputy police spokesperson, Inspector ’Mareabetsoe Mofoka, said they were unaware of the warrant for Mr Frazer’s arrest.
The alleged fraud is in connection with the botched deal for the German company to supply Lesotho with solar water heating systems, solar generated electricity, LED lights and solar lanterns over four years.
Mr Frazer signed on behalf of his company while then Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Temeki Tšolo, signed on behalf of the government.
Frazer Solar was in 2020 awarded £50 million (M856 million) damages for the government’s alleged breach of the 2018 ‘deal’. Frazer Solar insists it had a valid agreement that was signed by Mr Tšolo. The project was not implemented due to current Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro’s dogged refusal to sign the financing agreement when he was finance minister under the Thabane government.
The DCEO began probing the botched deal in the aftermath of the Gauteng High Court’s April 2021 judgement endorsing the damages award to Frazer Solar. The Lesotho government has since challenged the Gauteng High Court decision in the same court and in the Lesotho High Court. Both applications are pending.
The DCEO says its preliminary investigations into the abortive deal revealed that the agreement was “marred by corruption right from the beginning”.
DCEO acting Director General, Sefako Seema, made 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.
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.
Presumably, one of the “corrupt” local individuals could be Mr Tšolo who has been accused of signing the “deal” by Dr Majoro.
Mr Tšolo however, denied signing the controversial deal with, Frazer Solar, when he appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in July 2021.
He told the PAC members, who included former cabinet minister, Nyapane Kaya, that his signature had been forged. He said he was “set up for failure” by unnamed people who had inked his signature on the botched deal.
Despite his denials, Mr Tšolo was named by then Energy and Meteorology Principal Secretary, Themba Sopeng, as the man who approved the deal.
In June 2021, Mr Sopeng told PAC that Mr Tšolo had made it clear that the deal had the blessings of the then Prime Minister Thabane.
Frazer Solar insists that the agreement is valid and it is entitled to the damages for the alleged breach by the Lesotho government.
The company has launched a sustained social media onslaught accusing Dr Majoro of denying Basotho the benefits that would have come with the full implementation of the botched solar project.
The campaign is being run on the company’s Facebook page under the hashtags, #LesothoSolarScandal and #FrazerSolar. It can be accessed on the following link: https://www.facebook.com/FrazerSolarGroup.
“Moeketsi Majoro’s refusal to approve Frazer Solar’s signed agreement is now costing Basotho M367 million (or US$22, 9 million) in lost savings,” Frazer Solar claims on its Facebook page.