Nikuv speaks out

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Tefo Tefo

NIKUV International Projects says an “incident” for which the Israeli company has been convicted of bribery in its home country, occurred “at the initiative of a foreign representative”.

The controversial company also says it is working on restoring its credibility and good standing after being found guilty of impropriety.

Nikuv, which was contracted by the Lesotho government to introduce electronic national documents, was convicted and fined by the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on 15 December 2016 for bribing Lesotho’s then Home Affairs principal secretary (PS) Retšelisitsoe Khetsi to influence the awarding of the M300 million tender.

The Israeli firm was controversially awarded the lucrative contract to computerise the country’s border-control system and produce electronic passports, birth and death certificates and national Identity Documents (IDs) without an open public tender in 2012.

As part of a plea deal, the court fined Nikuv NIS 4.5 million (about M16.4 million) for bribing Mr Khetsi.

In addition to the fine and forfeiture of assets, the company was ordered to cooperate with law enforcement authorities in Lesotho investigating the case, as well as revise its internal policies in order to prevent future cases of bribery.

Mr Khetsi is currently standing trial before the Lesotho High Court for allegedly receiving the M5 million bribe from Nikuv.

Nikuv escaped prosecution in Lesotho for giving Mr Khetsi a bribe on condition that its staff members would testify against the former PS.

Mr Khetsi is expected to appear in court in February next year for the court to decide on the trial date.

However, Nikuv’s spokesperson Maya Speer this week told the Lesotho Times the company was committed to reclaiming its good image and thus continue to provide software services to the entire world.

“Recently the company signed a plea bargain for an event that occurred in Lesotho,” Mr Speer said.

“Although the incident occurred at the initiative of a foreign representative, Nikuv took full responsibility for the actions and tightened enforcement and compliance provisions in order to prevent recurrence of such incidents in the future”.

“The plea agreement brought an end to a long series of slurs and irrelevant accusations and we hope that this move will allow us to look ahead for an advanced technological future.”

Mr Speer described Nikuv as “a private software company with decades-long experience” in providing professional and efficient computerisation services to a variety of clients around the world, “and has garnered a spotless reputation along the years.”

“In Lesotho, the company took part in the revolutionary digital project that placed Lesotho on the top world-wide scale of technology in the field of Civil Population Registry,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) says the Nikuv’s conviction gave them the renewed impetus to further investigate the controversial awarding of the M300 million tender in 2012.

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