Agence France Press
August 15, 2003
A Canadian construction firm lost an appeal against a bribery conviction in a Lesotho court Friday after it was found guilty of paying an offical to win contracts in a water project in the mountain kingdom.
Judge President Jan Steyn told the court that Acres International had exploited the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP), which was meant to help the tiny country, which is landlocked by South Africa, to develop economically.
“The water project was a visionary initiative to put the country back on the road to economic recovery,” he said.
“Its exploitation by the appelant (Acres) was motivated by greed,” he said.
Acres was found guilty in October last year of paying bribes totalling the equivalent of 436,000 dollars (387,000 euros at current rates) to the former chief executive of the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority, Masupha Sole.
Sole is serving an 18-year prison term for receiving more than one million dollars from international companies involved in the project.
The court, however, upheld an appeal by Acres against a second charge, in which it was convicted of depositing 180,000 Canadian dollars (129,000 US dollars) into the account of Sole’s wife.
It subsequently reduced the fine againt Acres from the equivalent of 2.9 million US dollars to 1.9 US million dollars.