Two former Standard Lesotho Bank employees and five local entrepreneurs on Monday appeared before the High Court accused of defrauding government of over M13 million.
The ex-bank employees—‘Mabotsang Maseele Celina Matsoso and Palo Thonkha—and businesspeople Karabo Moohlo, Madaniel Itumeleng Lekokotoane Shakhane, Daniel Shakhane, Ntsoaki Maraisane and Lebohang Phohleli allegedly stole public funds amounting to M13, 796, 571. 78 between November and December 2011.
The case was supposed to start last Tuesday before Justice Semapo Peete but the judge postponed it to Monday this week because some of the accused’s legal representatives were unavailable.
The lawyers could not make it to court as they are also participating in the ongoing SADC Commission of Inquiry into the death of former Lesotho Defence Force commander Maaparankoe Mahao, as well as other security and political issues bedeviling the Kingdom.
However, Justice Peete on Monday postponed the case to 7 February 2016.
It is the state’s case that the money in question was deposited into the accused’s Standard Lesotho Bank accounts from government accounts held with the same financial institution under the pretense they had provided service to the state.
The accused were arrested in 2013 after an investigation by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) and had their vehicles and houses believed to be proceeds of the crime, confiscated.
Some of the seized vehicles are still at the DCEO premises in Maseru.
Meanwhile, the fraud allegations the accused are facing have alternative charges of money laundering and theft by false pretense.