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Suspected fraud at LNOC probed

Pascalinah Kabi

MASERU — The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) is investigating alleged misappropriation of funds at the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC), the Sunday Express can reveal. A highly placed source said LNOC president ‘Matlohang Moiloa-Ramoqõpõ and Treasurer Morake Raleaka were grilled by DCEO investigators on Tuesday. The LNOC is reeling after its financials for 2010 and 2011 were qualified by auditors.
According to the audits the LONC management could not account for a total of M2 383 016 it had used in 2010 and 2011. In their audit report for the financial year-ended March 31, 2010, Adache Abah & Associates said the LNOC had failed to produce vouchers for payments worth M1 193 991. The auditors said because of the absence of the vouchers they were unable to “confirm authorisation, accuracy and authenticity” of the payments that the association claimed to have made. The auditors also found that for the year-ended March 31, 2011, the LNOC could not produce vouchers for payments worth M1 189 025.

Like in 2010, the association’s accounts for 2011 were qualified. The reports have triggered speculation of massive looting at the association
Now the DCEO is demanding answers. The source said the interrogation of LNOC officials took “the whole of Tuesday”. Moiloa-Ramoqõpõ and Raleaka could not be reached for comment. On Friday DCEO information officer ‘Matlhokomelo Senoko said she could neither confirm nor deny that the officials were quizzed by the anti-corruption unit. She said revealing that information would compromise the investigation.

“I can’t confirm or disconfirm (deny) that LNOC officials were brought in for questioning as our investigators have strongly warned about making public any information concerning their investigations,” Senoko said. “Investigations are not supposed to be made public under any circumstances as suspects may run soon after”. There are a number of possible explanations as to why the LNOC management could not produce the vouchers to prove how it used M2.3 million in 2010 and 2011. It could be that the vouchers were genuinely lost or not properly filed.
Several experts in the accounting profession have however told this paper that this is highly unlikely, especially considering the amounts involved and the fact that this happened over two consecutive years.

It could be that the LNOC could not produce the vouchers because it had spent the money on things unrelated to its core business.
The management could have deliberately overridden internal control systems to make payment without vouchers. The other possible explanation is that the funds purported to have been paid out to suppliers were actually siphoned from the association through fraud. LNOC is funded by the International Olympics Committee (IOC), OlympAfrica Youth Ambassador Programme (OYAP) and the Commonwealth.
Some funding comes from the government as well as fees from the committee’s affiliated members.

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