Company faces bribery charges

News 24 (South Africa)
March 2, 2005

Maseru: An Italian company will be tried in the Lesotho High Court next month on five charges of bribery relating to the giant Lesotho Highlands Water Project.

The indictment alleges that the company, Impregilo SpA, paid $1,156,000 (about R6,936,000) to the former chief executive of the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority (LHDA), Masupha Sole, as a bribe for winning a tender for the construction of the Katse Dam, the flagship of the project.

According to the indictment, an agreement was reached between Sole and one Allione on October 11, 1990 to award contract 123 for construction of the Katse Dam. The deal was labelled a “consultancy agreement” but “was in truth and in fact . . . a bribe agreement.”

The bribe is alleged to have been shared between Sole and Michiel Jacobus Du Plooy, a South African, in 1993.

“In terms of the bribe agreement Du Plooy acted as intermediary between the old Impregilo and Sole; this is to separate the parties by one link so as to make detection of agreement difficult and also to facilitate the treatment of payments in the books of accounts of Impregilo,” reads the indictment.

The payments were made into to Du Plooy’s bank in Switzerland. He “in turn paid half thereof to Sole, either into a bank account in Switzerland in Sole’s name or in cash.”

Sole is in Maseru’s central prison, serving 18 years for corruption, fraud and bribery.

According to the indictment Sole promised to use his influence as chief executive of the LHDA, on the understanding that he would be paid if Impregilo won a contract or contracts.

Impregilo became Impregilo SpA after a merger of companies involved in the construction of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.

An exact date for the trial has not been set.

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