Monday, October 26, 2020

Court rules against Nina director in land fraud case

Details emerging from the Nina Properties Director, Borzoo Parastaran land fraud trial suggest that the expatriate investor may have used a friendship he forged in church to further his alleged fraudulent land deal.

Gaborone Magistrates Court has ruled that Parastaran has a case to answer for allegedly lying under oath and fraudulently using the name of an associate he met in church when applying for a plot to construct a private school in Gaborone?s Block 9.
The fraud case was investigated and brought to court by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) following recommendations by the Lesetedi Land Commission.

The Lesetedi Land Commission, which was appointed to investigate allegations of fraud and corruption in the awarding of some plots in Gaborone, recommended a number of allocations for further investigation.

After listening to testimonies by a number of witnesses, Gaborone Magistrate, Terrence Rannowane, ruled that Parastaran had a case to answer.

One of the witnesses, Jaraneh Mahmoud Azaden, who is listed as a partner in Parastaran?s company that applied for the plot to construct a private school, has however denied any connection with the company.

She told the court that she and her parents had in the past discussed a business idea but that she then left all details to her parents and never followed up on the idea.

She strongly denied going into any business deal with Parastaran whom she told the Court she had known from their religious gathering as a member of Bahai Faith.

She also told the Court that she does not remember discussing the plan to construct a school with Parastaran.

After Jaraneh had given evidence, Investigations Officer in the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Crime, Shadrack Kgomo, told the Court that he started investigating Nina Properties in 2005 after the completion of Lesetedi Land Commission which recommended investigations into the way some companies were awarded plots in Gaborone.

His investigations, he told the Court, led him to the Department of Lands where he picked documents which were completed by the accused person and which showed that he had a company called Lunar Properties Management and that the documents he collected from the Department were completed by the accused and his wife.

During submissions, DPP prosecutor, Wesson Mantswe, asked the Court to find that the accused has a case to answer.

He told the Court that all the documents that the state had produced before the Court proved that they were forged.

He opposed defence lawyer, Unoda Mack?s submission that by omitting to call Jaraneh?s father to give evidence the state had failed to prove its case. The state prosecutor argued and said that the omission did not harm the state?s case in anyway.

In a related case, the state has reinstated cases against a former Gaborone City Council employee who is accused of having lied to his bosses on the allocation of land to a former Department of Lands employee. These are the first two cases to reach the Courts arising from the Lesetedi Land Commission.

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