Deputy Rector-Academic Affairs & Research, Director-Human Resource and Senior Accountant indefinitely suspended pending probe into ‘suspicious financial transactions they initiated/authorised/approved’
Lerotholi Polytechnic on Friday suspended three top officials pending the results of a forensic investigation into allegations the government-owned institution could have been swindled of millions of maloti.
Deputy Rector- Academic Affairs & Research, Palo Pokothoane; Director-Human Resource, Limpho Nchephe-Motanyane; and Senior Accountant Motale Noosi, were sent on “immediate and indefinite” suspension.
According to a memo written to staff on 7 November 2014 by Acting Rector Hlomohang Majara, the three executives were suspended “pending investigations into suspicious financial transactions initiated/authorized/approved by them.”
Contacted yesterday, Advocate Majara said she was not yet in a position to comment on the matter “because I have to consult with my superiors first before I talk to the media about it. I can only give an interview on the matter next week after consulting the superiors.”
However, Dr Pokothoane yesterday confirmed the suspensions to the Sunday Express.
“To tell you in brief, as the letter I received was also brief, I have been suspended because I authorised or counter-signed some documents which came to my office from the accounts department. You see, the procedure is that whenever there is something that needs to be paid for or procured at the institution, the accounts section will prepare documents which will eventually be counter-signed by my office. It is now management’s suspicion that some bank accounts which were used in that process could be dubious,” Dr Pokothoane said.
Asked how much money could be involved, Dr Pokothoane said: “I don’t know. Like I said, the letter is very brief. It does not go into details of the transactions.”
However, sources privy to the case told the Sunday Express that “millions of maloti” were alleged to have been misappropriated.
One of the sources said: “Although it is not clear in the memo how much was misappropriated, we understand millions of maloti are involved. Actually, this goes back to the M13 million that the college was earlier reported to have failed to remit to the Lesotho Revenue Authority in pay-as-you-earn tax. This issue has developed from that report. And it is again the reason why Dr Pokothoane was recently relieved of the position of Acting Rector and replaced by the Registrar.”
Dr Pokothoane had been appointed Acting Rector when Tsietsi Lebakae – the former Rector – was suspended in April this year following an LRA report which revealed the institution, better known as Fokothi, owed M13 million in pay-as-you-earn tax. Mr Lebakae has since left Fokothi after a M1.3 million golden handshake.
However, Dr Pokothoane was relieved of the Acting Rector position from 1 October this year, and replaced by the Registrar, Advocate Majara.
Meanwhile, the Sunday Express could not immediately get comments from Ms Nchephe-Motanyane and Mr Noosi.
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