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Bribery case hearing postponed

Keiso Mohloboli

MASERU — The Maseru Magistrate’s Court this week postponed hearings into a sensational bribery case to October 29 and November 4.

The case, in which taxi owner Makoatla Molatuoa was arrested last June after he was allegedly caught red-handed while trying to bribe an investigator with the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO), was this week granted fresh hearing dates because the docket was unavailable.

Two of the DCEO investigators probing the case have since left the anti-corrup­tion body to work elsewhere.

Prosecution said it is informed that this case will not proceed because “investiga­tors of the case have since resigned and joined the Central Bank of Lesotho and Lesotho Revenue Authority”.

Molatuoa, who is also the Democratic Congress’ Secretary for Hlotse constitu­ency, is accused of trying to bribe DCEO principal investigation officer Tsotang Likotsi with M10 000.
Likotsi blew the whistle and police set a trap, which Molatuoa fell into.
He was arrested at the Pioneer Mall’s Wimpy restaurant just after he had hand­ed the money to Likotsi.

corruption and money laundering relating to the National Iden­tity and e-passport project”, in which an Israeli firm Nikuv International is at the centre of an irregular multi-million maloti tender.

Molatuoa was suspected to be linked to the much-publicised ID tender scan­dal and the DCEO was reportedly looking into 200 cheques allegedly deposited into his account between March and Decem­ber 2012.

The investigators believe he was one of the “runners” Nikuv was using to distrib­ute bribes to senior government officials allegedly involved in corrupt dealings with the Israeli company.
The DCEO is currently investigating al­legations that some senior officials in the current and former governments received bribes from Nikuv before and after it was awarded the multi-million maloti ten­der.

It is alleged that a syndicate of govern­ment officials received around M30 mil­lion in bribes from Nikuv.

That money, the investigators believe, was generated after the syndicate alleg­edly arm-twisted Nikuv officials to inflate the price of its contract with the govern­ment.
The money was then laundered through various schemes before it reached mem­bers of the syndicate.

This week the court warned Molatuoa, 39, not to attend remands or report to the police headquarters but to “go straight for his hearings on October 29 and November 4 2014 without delay or fail”. ”.

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