Spie Batignolles next in line for Lesotho prosecution

Wiseman Khuzwayo
Institute for Security Studies
November 25, 2003

Wiseman Khuzwayo reports in the Star that the prosecution of multinational companies on charges of corruption relating to the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, is quietly continuing.

The trial of Spie Batignoles, a subsidiary of France’s biggest engineering and construction firm, the Schneider group, was due to have started on October 15. The company was convicted of bribing the former executive of the water project, Masupha Sole, who was sentenced to 18 years in jail for receiving more than R7,5 million from American, British, Canadian, French and German contractors.

In August, the conviction of Canadian-based contracting company Acres International for bribery was confirmed by the Lesotho appeal court and it was fined R15 million.

However, the Canadian government’s export financing agency has been accused by some NGO’s for its failure to sanction Acres International, which has been convicted of illegal acts abroad, including Lesotho.

The prosecutions in Lesotho were given international prominence when Guido Penzhorn, state prosecutor in this matter, was recently invited to the European Parliament in Brussels and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris to brief the two organisation on the investigations and trials.

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