FORMER Lerotholi Polytechnic accountant Motale Noosi has been charged with defrauding his former employers of M32 million.
Mr Noosi was arrested on Wednesday soon after confessing before a special Public Accounts Committee (PAC) session that he was assisted by a traditional healer to forge signatures of his colleagues to swindle the school of M16 million that disappeared from its coffers in 2010.
Although Mr Noosi did not confess to converting the money to his own use, he told the PAC that he would pay back M16 million which disappeared from the school’s accounts in 2010.
However, police spokesperson, Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli told the Sunday Express that Mr Noosi has been charged for allegedly defrauding the college of M32 million and not the M16 million which he pledged to repay.
“A 42-year-old old man from Masowe was arrested on Wednesday for fraud,” Supt Mopeli said.
“The man, who is a former employee at the Lerotholi Polytechnic, is suspected to have stolen M32 million from the school’s accounts. It is not yet clear if the money was stolen in one incident or if it was stolen in many transactions. He is set to appear before court today (Friday),” Supt Mopeli added.
Mr Noosi is alleged to have defrauded the college using transactions to three South African companies where he claimed to have purchased school equipment that was never delivered.
In July 2018, the PAC grilled former senior officers at the college over money amounting to M32 million that was reported to be missing from the Lerotholi Polytechnic’s account.
Former Lerotholi Polytechnic rector Tsietsi Lebakae and former acting rector Palo Pokothoane appeared before the PAC in connection with their involvement in an “unlawful enterprise” which prejudiced the state-owned institution M32 million between 2007 and 2015. Mr Lebakae and Mr Pokothoane denied any involvement in the disappearance of the money.
The 2018 meeting was indefinitely adjourned to enable former Lerotholi Polytechnic employees – Limpho Nchephe, Motale Noosi, Mpho Morojele and Moshe Sesoane to be subpoenaed to appear before PAC.
And the Wednesday twist saw Mr Noosi being apprehended after pledging to repay the M16 million of the M32 million which disappeared from the school’s accounts.
It is not yet clear if Mr Noosi’s arrest has exonerated Messrs Lebakae and Pokothoane who were questioned about the funds last year.
A letter that was presented to the 2018 PAC session written by the Officer Commanding the police Commercial Crimes Counter Unit, Cedric Sera Makharilele, was contained in a report written to the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Training, Thabiso Lebese.
Mr Makharilele stated in the letter that police investigations revealed that Messrs Lebakae and Pokothoane used nine companies to make fraudulent transactions to commercial banks in South Africa.
“Investigations to date have established that the following companies: Adam’s Horizon General Trading, R.S Components, Betty Stationers, S.G Tapping (PTY) Ltd, Laboratory Analytical Supplies, M & G Fasteners, BTM Technologies, Betty Stationers, S.G Tapping and Sons are involved in the fraudulent transactions that were conducted from the Lerotholi Polytechnic Standard Lesotho Bank account.
“Scrutiny of the entire course of events by way of interviews revealed a systematic strategy by the suspects (Messrs Lebakae and Pokothoane) to defraud the Ministry of Education/Lerotholi Polytechnic by paying suppliers/beneficiaries. Further investigations revealed a possibility of a joint scheme of an unlawful enterprise in these crimes as the said transactions ‘modus operandi’ is the same throughout.
“On the following dates, Lerotholi Polytechnic made fraudulent payments to a commercial bank in the Republic of South Africa First National Bank (FNB) (account number known to the investigators) under the following entities; Adam’s Horizon General Trading, RS Components PTY LTD, RS Components LTD, Betty Stationers, SG Tapping and Sons PTY LTD, M&G Fasteners PTY LDT and BMT Technologies. (Note: All these entities were fraudulently paid under one known account number),” Mr Makharilele said.
Mr Makharilele said that Lerotholi Polytechnic released funds totaling to M32 430 187, 16 to pay “bogus suppliers” in South Africa and that the monies were lodged into the account opened with FNB.
He said his unit had submitted specimen signatures of the investigation as well as Standard Lesotho Bank payment instructions to the South African Police Forensic Science Laboratory for analysis.
“We have sought mutual legal assistance in terms of the International Co-operation in Criminal Matters Act of 1966 for the Attorney General to request the assistance of the Director General of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development in South Africa to interview witnesses, take statements from witnesses and obtain documentary evidence from witnesses.
“We have also sought mutual legal assistance to access the bank accounts and legal entities in South Africa, relating to or having a bearing upon an investigation into fraud, aggravated theft and money laundering cases in the government of Lesotho’s Ministry of Education in which some monies being the subject of the said offences were deposited into the mentioned account at First National Bank South Africa and the accounts of the persons of interest which their accounts are known to us,” Mr Makharilele said.
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