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Judge refuses to issue warrant of arrest for businessman

Nat Molomo

MASERU — High Court judge Justice ’Maseforo Mahase has refused to issue a warrant of arrest for a businessman who allegedly defrauded Wesbank of M12.8 million. Prosecution lawyer Hjamlor Woker wanted Justice Mahase to order the arrest of Adil Osman after he failed to appear in court on Tuesday. Osman and his son Mohammed Osman are facing 25 charges of fraud and theft. They were accused with Kagiso Selebano, a former Wesbank manager, who has turned state witness. When Osman’s lawyer indicated that his client could not appear in court because he was sick Woker requested that the judge issue a warrant of arrest against him.

He said the prosecution should ascertain if Osman is indeed sick. If that is the case, Woker said, then he should be admitted to a local hospital.

“You have no choice but to authorise a warrant of arrest,” Woker told the judge. Woker insisted that Osman should be detained because the crown wanted to make its own investigations. But Justice Mahase said she found Woker’s application “very strange” because she had been shown documents showing that Osman had been admitted at Universitas Hospital, in Bloemfontein.” “On the face of these papers I have no doubt that accused one
(Adil Osman) is ill and is in hospital,” she said.

The judge said the best she could do is to give Osman till September 24 to come to court. “Otherwise I can’t do a warrant of arrest for somebody in hospital,” the judge said. The Osmans are facing 25 counts of fraud and theft. They own a car dealership trading as MYO Motor Garage Truck and Bus in Ladybrand. Father and son are alleged to have conspired with Wesbank manager Selebano in 2007 to mislead the bank into believing that customers who applied for loans to buy cars would be able to repay their debts when they knew that they could not.

Wesbank is a trading arm of First National Bank of Lesotho, a business that specialises in financing the purchase or acquisition of assets including vehicles. The three allegedly cheated Wesbank’s verification and risk assessment procedures by using false bank records, proof of insurance documents and financial statements. After helping a customer to buy a vehicle, the Osmans would be paid by the bank as car dealers and they would pay Selebano his share of the spoils. Selebano’s job was to oversee the installment sale agreements between Wesbank and its customers.

His job required him to verify the documentation needed by Wesbank to enable it to decide on whether or not to enter into the installment sale agreement with a customer. Selebano is accused of including false information in the Application-for-Finance forms when assistingcustomers referred to him by the Osmans.Adil Osman himself is accused of submitting false documents to Wesbank when he bought a 56-seater Toyota Hino bus worth M279 000 in 2007. In October of the same year he allegedly fraudulently bought another Toyota Hino bus with the same price, through a Wesbank loan. With the help of his son and Selebano, he allegedly used the same avenue to swindle Wesbank by submitting 23 more fake documents from other customers.

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