Monday, May 20, 2024

Bank Gaborone managers to appear before PAC over illicit bank account

Good sources at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development tell Sunday Standard that Bank Gaborone managers have been summoned to appear before the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

In his own appearance before that Committee last year, the former Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Dr. Obolokile Obakeng, revealed that the former Director of the Department of Energy Affairs, Kenneth Kerekang, opened an account at Bank Gaborone without being authorised by his superiors and deposited a sum of P60 million. Kerekang is one of the four accused persons in a money-laundering case relating to money (P250 million) that was diverted from the NPF to the Directorate of Intelligence Services and Security (DISS). Obakeng told the PAC that the P60 million was not part of the P250 million. The P60 million account was opened in 2016 while the P250 million was diverted in 2017. As the P250 million, the P60 million was diverted from its intended use ÔÇô it was supposed to build strategic fuel stocks.

“We found that there was an account opened back in 2016 at Bank Gaborone under Kerekang’s direction and it was supposed to deal with the buying of strategic fuel stocks. From our records, we did not see how he had the authority to open that account and put money there. We don’t know what happened and it is a matter that is under investigation,” Obakeng told the PAC last year.

A source reveals that Bank Gaborone managers are being hauled over the coals because they contravened the Banking Act, with one example being that no board resolution was submitted to the bank because there was no such resolution.

“You can’t do what he did with public funds and the bank’s role in facilitating the opening of this account makes it an accomplice,” says source, further revealing that Kerekang was the sole signatory – an aberration because public finance management law spreads authority over public funds in order to prevent abuse.

Additionally, the bank flouted the stringent know-your-customer (KYC) requirements that all Botswana banks (Bank Gaborone itself included) have introduced to firewall their operations against money laundering. In terms of these requirements, Kerekang could not have opened an account that he was sole signatory of with government money, which account was under his control under dubious circumstances. With as long as it has operated in Botswana, the bank is familiar with public finance management processes and a source says that warning bells should have gone off when a civil servant with no authority from either his superiors or board, asked to open an account with huge sums of government money.

Bank Gaborone stood in the way of a bullet that another bank successfully dodged three years ago. In July, 2014, Stanbic Botswana refused to take an equivalent of P50 million cash deposit by former DISS Director General, Isaac Kgosi. The money (which was in euros) was reportedly stashed in the back of Kgosi’s official car, a black Toyota Fortuner. Fearing that Kgosi was laundering the money, the bank tipped off the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime whose sting operation was thwarted when Kgosi, who had left the banking hall in the interim, didn’t return to make the deposit.


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