Money paid into SA banks after ‘fraud’ by Lesotho officials forfeited to state

The Free State high court on Friday granted the National Prosecuting Authority’s Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) a forfeiture order for R18m that was fraudulently paid into SA bank accounts by Lesotho government officials.

The officials had allegedly siphoned about R50m from Lesotho state coffers through a well-orchestrated scheme in which they inflated and diverted payments meant for suppliers to themselves and their companies which had not rendered any services to the state.

The Lesotho Asset Forfeiture Unit and the Lesotho Mounted Police requested the assistance of the AFU, the Hawks and Financial Intelligence Centre when they established that officials from that country’s ministry of finance had allegedly siphoned the R50m and deposited R31m into SA banks.

The high court granted the forfeiture order after the AFU proved that the money was fraudulently paid into Absa, Capitec, FNB and Standard Bank accounts.

AFU investigator Oddie Mradla found that R18.6 of the R31m was still available to be preserved and the unit then launched an urgent application to have the accounts with the funds frozen.

“The money has now been forfeited and it will be paid back into the coffers of Lesotho government,” NPA spokesperson Phaladi Shuping said.

Shuping said further investigation revealed that there was R7.3m that was paid into personal accounts of the officials who are accused of defrauding the Lesotho government.

Shuping said this money has also been preserved after the AFU applied for an unopposed preservation order. He said the AFU will apply for a forfeiture of this money in April 2022.

The seven officials from Lesotho ministry of finance who are implicated in the scandal are currently facing charges of fraud and money laundering in the Maseru magistrate’s court.

TimesLIVE

The Free State high court on Friday granted the National Prosecuting Authority’s Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) a forfeiture order for R18m that was fraudulently paid into SA bank accounts by Lesotho government officials.

The Free State high court on Friday granted the National Prosecuting Authority’s Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) a forfeiture order for R18m that was fraudulently paid into SA bank accounts by Lesotho government officials.
Image: 123RF/INSTINIA

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