A string of curious bank transfers running into millions of Pula made in favour of Minerals and Energy Minister Sadique Kebonang by companies owned by Bakang Seretse has prompted the minister to approach the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) in an attempt to account for the transactions.
Kebonang on Wednesday deposed a statement with the DCEC stating among other things that he sold three properties to Seretse; two houses in Johannesburg valued at around P12 million between them and another house in Phakalane, Gaborone valued at P3 million.
The money, said Kebonang was paid in bits and pieces, hence a succession of bank transfers made in his favour by companies owned by Seretse.
“When you sell somebody a house you do not ask them where they are getting money from. Seretse is a businessman,” said Kebonang in an interview with Sunday Standard.
Seretse is at the centre of criminal investigations over millions of pula from the National Petroleum Fund. Seretse’s companies are involved in the management of the National Petroleum Fund which falls under Kebonang’s ministry. Seretse is currently facing charges of money laundering.
Seretse’s management of the National Petroleum Fund, a close to one billion pula nest egg under Kebonang ministry has raised questions of corporate governance and ethical propriety.
At issue are several financial transactions that Seretse made to Kebonang and the P250 million that was transferred to the intelligence services for construction of fuel storage tanks, before being diverted to purchase military hardware in Israel.
Charged together with two others ÔÇô Kenneth Kerekang and Botho Leburu, Seretse is currently on bail.
Kerekang, formerly a director at the Department of Energy in the Ministry of Minerals and Energy is currently an executive at the Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority. Leburu works with Seretse in a clutch of investment companies owned by Seretse.
In his statement to DCEC, which he avers that he deposed voluntarily, Kebonang states that he has had nothing to do with contractual agreements entered between his ministry, Seretse and his companies.
Kebonang told Sunday Standard that those contracts were signed and entered into long before he [Kebonang] was appointed to his current ministerial portfolio.
“In relation to Bakang Seretse, I state that I have known him for many years. He has funded my campaign and political activities since 2013 to date. He has also donated generously to a number of causes, entities, and people, political and otherwise through me,” says Kebonang in his statement to the DCEC.
Sunday Standard can confirm that almost all of the leaders of political parties in Botswana save for the Alliance for Progressives and the Botswana Peoples Party have been routinely receiving money from Seretse as part of his political largesse and political patronage.
Minister Kebonang conceded that Seretse has previously conducted business with his twin brother, Dr Zein Kebonang who is a High Court Judge.
In fact Zein Kebonang was at one point a non-Executive director in one of the companies owned by Seretse that are today at the centre of controversy.