Feb. 13, 2023


2 min read

Mining boss denies hand in money laundering

Mining boss denies hand in money laundering

High Court judge, Justice 'Maseforo Mahase

Story highlights

    Witness claims DCEO forced her to admit being bribed by Ketso
    DCEO accuses Ketso and the DMA of involvement in money laundering

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THE matter in which the managing director of Maru-a-pula Mining & Construction (PTY) LTD, Ketso Ketso is accused of tax evasion could not continue in the High Court last week as defence counsel was unable to make an appearance due to ill health.

The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) took the case to court and accused the mining boss of contravening the provisions of the Income Tax Act No.9 of 1993 in that he failed to pay income tax for the financial years 2013/2014 and 2015/2016.

The anti-corruption body laid charges against Ketso and his company in 2017.

It is alleged that the then-acting Chief Executive Officer of the Disaster Management Authority (DMA), ’Makhotso Mohasi received bribes from Marula-a-pula and other companies in order to fast-track their payments.

The DCEO among other things, wants Mohasi to return the money she allegedly received as a bribe.

The respondents in the matter include the DCEO, Standard Lesotho Bank, the Maseru Magistrate’s Court, and the Attorney General.

In her defence, Mohasi told the court how the DCEO forced her to admit that Ketso bribed her to accelerate his payments.

Following the DCEO investigations that ensued, Ketso’s bank accounts held at Standard Lesotho Bank were frozen.

Ketso consequently filed an application in the High Court, challenging the freezing of his accounts.

He argued that his company had legitimately won the M9 million tender to construct the road from Tšifa-li-mali to ’Malesaoana in Leribe.

This was after the contractors were requested to submit their bids for the construction of roads and bridges that had been destroyed due to heavy rainfalls in 2021.

“Due to the urgent need to have such roads and bridges repaired, contractors were advised that Cabinet had taken a resolution to involve DMA since this was a national crisis,” Ketso noted.

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He further said Maru-a-pula had initially bid for M9 million but the Ministry of Local Government negotiated the price to M6 065 095.17 which took the government more than a year to pay.

He explained that his company and other contractors were sent back and forth when they demanded their payments.

The court further heard how the DCEO claimed the money derived from the government through DMA was used to commit money laundering in violation of section 5(1) of the Anti-Money Laundering Act.

Ketso claims that the DCEO failed to demonstrate that the payment of the money into his company account constituted money laundering.  

Justice ’Maseforo Mahase who is presiding over the case has ordered the DCEO and Standard Lesotho bank to stop interfering with the applicant’s bank account except by due process of the law while investigations are continuing.

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