Tlali MASERU — Matsobane
Putsoa’s controversial tenure as National University of Lesotho (NUL) bursar
week returned to haunt him after fresh details of how he could have cheated the
university emerged, a Sunday Express investigation has revealed.
might have avoided getting fired and stayed on as bursar until he retired last
year but details are beginning to emerge on how an audit report of 2001 into
NUL’s financial status could have missed some crucial details that could have
unravelled some of his questionable deals.
precisely because of the weaknesses of that report that Putsoa was exonerated
of any wrongdoing and remained the bursar.
PricewaterhouseCoopers report seems to have fallen short when it came to
finding hard evidence to prove that Putsoa was using
front companies to make money from NUL.
audit had managed to get down to the bottom of Putsoa’s activities NUL might
not have fallen victim to other questionable financial activities that later
followed and are partly to blame for the university’s current financial mess.
the auditors started their investigation they zeroed in on two companies, UCS
Travel Agency and Zepada.
Travel was the company through which NUL was buying air tickets for its
expatriate staff and other senior officials while Zepada is the company that
sold a bus to NUL in 1998 for just under M600 000.
auditors suspected that the two companies were linked to Putsoa.
after months of investigations they found nothing solid apart from the fact
that “UCS Travel employed Putsoa’s niece” and it shared contact details with
was no other link between Putsoa and the two companies.
revelation that his niece was employed by UCS Travel was not enough to nail him
and the disciplinary committee’s case against him collapsed.
now investigations have revealed crucial and incriminating information that the
auditors missed during their investigations.
would appear that when they zeroed in on UCS Travel they were chasing a wrong
they had thoroughly checked the records at the company registry they would have
established that the company they were looking for was not UCS Travel but UCS
Freight is the company that Putsoa had registered sometime in 1998 when NUL was
planning to buy a bus.
registered the company with one Vijaya Kumar as director.
UCS Freight and not UCS Travel that shared contact details with Zepada.
also UCS Freight that employed Putsoa’s niece.
there was obviously a link between UCS Freight and Zepada. Zepada had inflated
the bus price by about M58 000, according to the audit report.
auditors also concluded that Zepada had supplied a second-hand bus at the price
of a brand new one.
would appear that in following
Putsoa’s trail the auditors had
been hoodwinked by the fact that
UCS Travel and UCS Freight shared
almost similar names.
when they were talking to Putsoa’s niece they thought they were talking to an
official from UCS Travel,” said a source with intimate knowledge about the
auditors seemed to have smelt a rat but they did not go further.
they recommended that NUL investigates the issue further.
never investigated the matter as recommended and instead it went ahead to
prosecute Putsoa on the basis of an inadequate report.
result was that Putsoa was found not guilty.
would seem that even if they had tried to do their own investigations it would
have been difficult for NUL to pin down Putsoa because he was always a step
go to the company registry today you would find that Putsoa no longer appears
as a director of UCS Freight.
is still a director but in Putsoa’s place there is now one Lehloma Seola.
is a strong indication that Putsoa’s name was fraudulently removed from the
close to the matter said Putsoa’s name was removed from UCS Freight’s files
when the PricewaterhouseCoopers audit was at its peak.
paper has the original documents that were in UCS Freight’s file and they show
that Putsoa was indeed involved with the company when it was registered.
name appears in the power of attorney that the he and Kumar gave to one
Molebohang Makosholo to register the company.
fact Putsoa’s name and signature is littered in most of those documents.
instance in one of the documents dated November 3, 1998 Putsoa appears as a
director with 500 shares of the company.
name and signature also appears in UCS Freight’s Form F, a document which shows
a company’s details.
shows that he was involved with UCS Freight, the company that shared offices
his link to UCS Freight won’t be reflected in the company file that is at the
documents linking him to the company had been replaced with another set that
shows that Seola and Vijaya are directors.
reason for this is that they were hurriedly changed sometime
in 2000 or thereabout,” the source said.
as the bursar, was the one dealing with Zepada during the procurement of the
the audit Putsoa’s office failed to produce evidence that it had solicited the
required three quotations before settling on Zepada as a supplier.
also failed to explain how NUL ended up paying M58 000 more than what Zepada
had quoted for the bus.
auditors also found that there were times when NUL made duplicate payments to
source however told the Sunday Express that “there is a strong
possibility that some of the duplicate payments were actually illegal payments
to UCS Freight.”
were very weak control systems so it is possible that NUL could have paid UCS
Freight thinking that it was paying UCS Travel. I believe this is what happened
because the cheques were just written ‘UCS’,” the source said.
is also information that another company called Quality Catering Services,
which controversially won a tender to run the university’s cafe, had links to
two shared a director and contact details.
Zepada, Quality Catering Services shared offices with UCS Freight.
this paper tried to get a comment from Putsoa he blamed what he said were his
enemies in the Basotho Congress Party (BCP) for “using the press to destroy”
said it was Thulo Mahlakeng, the BCP leader, who had leaked the information to
said he believed it was Mahlakeng who had leaked the information because he had
been his lawyer at the time of the investigation against him.
and Mahlakeng belong to two factions that are fighting for the control of the
could not be reached for comment