Africa

Clock ticking to Sole’s bribery scam

Khutliso Sekoati
Mopheme/The Survivor
August 15, 2001

Just six days are left before the beans are spilt over former Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA) Chief Executive Masupha Sole when the Swiss banks officials will cough out their knowledge about the accused secret financial accounts.

Already highly secret financial documents from Switzerland are lying in the High Court where they are tightly kept to be presented as evidence against Sole on charges of bribery.

Sole is being charged of bribery after he allegedly benefited from massive funds poured into his foreign account by several foreign dam contractors which were involved in the implementation of the giant Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP).

The Swiss banks officials who were called in to testify on August 20 were set to jet into the country this week.

Sole, 53, first CEO of the LHDA is facing 14 charges of bribery, one of fraud and the other of perjury. The case crops from claims that he accepted several millions of money from the venture international companies for favours in being awarded works at the multi-million dam project.

These original bank records were obtained from the Swiss banks after several attempts by the prosecution represented by senior counsel Guido Penzhorn of the neighbouring South African.

The disgruntled Sole left the LHDA in 1985 after his ties with the employers broke off, forcing him. Later he was issued with civil summons demanding him to pay back a M7.7 million which was said to have been taken in financial misdemeanour while he held the top office of the water project overseer. He was ordered to pay back the money which he had obtained through misrepresentation.

His failure to pay back the money has thrown him into a wheel-wind as both his movable and immovable assets have been frozen by the court. His financial accounts have also been frozen.

The bank records are said to be of crucial importance in the case which might land Sole into prison if found guilty. The records will reveal of several millions deposited into Sole’s account claimed to be arising from bribery conduct in which he is said to have benefited.

The documents will be perused when the case resumes. The records were kept at the court buildings early July in a tightly sealed package.

Sole was appointed to head the authority in 1986 after a water pact was signed by Lesotho’s military government and the apartheid South African regime with South Africa to sell water to the heartland of the Gauteng Province.

The then military councillor Thaabe Letsie signed on behalf of the Lesotho government while the then SA Foreign Minister Pik Botha, signed for his racist administration.

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