Some Botswana Defence Force (BDF) officers allegedly set up bogus travel agencies to swindle the army of millions of Pula as allegations of corruption in the military escalate this week.
Information reaching The Telegraph shows that some senior officers created fake travelling agencies which they used to place fraudulent flight bookings and conned the army out of more than P5 million.
The BDF’s Inspectorate General, which investigates allegations of corruption within the army, has since reported a case of fraud to the Police implicating some high ranking officers in a flight ticket scam.
BDF’s acting Director of Protocol and Public Affairs Major Fana Maswabi, from the Directorate of Public Affairs said “Yes, it s true it was reported to the Botswana Police Services early 2015 and further investigations were carried out by the Police. The matter is currently at Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP).”
According to sources familiar with the fraudulent activities at the army, some senior officers would instruct their unsuspecting juniors that they should make bookings for trips abroad with travel agencies while in actual fact the trips that the army paid for did not exist.
“The scam mostly involved fraudulent trips abroad. At some point we were shocked to learn that officers who had booked trips abroad to attend short courses overseas were actually here in Gaborone, suggesting that the trips they had booked did not exist,” sources said.
Investigations were carried out by the Inspector General which then referred its findings to the Police for further investigations.
It was discovered that the fraudulent travel agencies were linked to some senior officers who had booked trips with the same agencies. It is understood that the Police also followed the money trail which led them back to the implicated army senior officers.
In some instances, the sources said, they were made to place booking reservations with expensive lodges and hotels in Gaborone for international guests scheduled to attend events that the army hosted for their international counterparts.
“They would literally connive with some hotels and inflate prices or even make the army pay for ghost visitors. Some of the payments were even made to their personal accounts,” the sources said. The sources claimed that the junior officers who had made reservations and payments at the instance of their senior counterparts have since been fired.
Last week, The Telegraph’s sister publication, Sunday Standard also reported that some members of the army command are implicated in another shady deal allegedly to fleece the army of millions of Pula.