Wednesday, July 28, 2021

DIS boss broke the law

The Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services DIS boss, Isaac Kgosi may be guilty of violating at least two provisions of the Botswana Finance and Audit Act by diverting money from the National Petroleum Fund towards the purchase of drones from an unauthorized Israeli supplier.

Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) investigators are following leads that Kgosi went ahead and allegedly purchased drones in Israel despite a letter from Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Minerals and Energy advising that diverting the funds would be illegal.

The Ministry had initially given DIS approval to divert the funds.

As an afterthought the ministry went back on its approval and warned Kgosi in writing not to go ahead with the purchase of ant-poaching arsenal.

Sunday Standard is in possession of a subsequent memo by the Permanent Secretary effectively withdrawing and rescinding the initial approval of diversions.

In the letter dated 23rd November 2017, Dr Obolokile Obakeng tells Kgosi that the rules and orders governing the National Petroleum Fund do not make provisions for variations and diversion as earlier sought by the DIS boss and approved by Dr Obakeng.

Kgosi who had been allowed to access P250 million from the National Petroleum Fund to build fuel storage tanks for security essential services changed his mind after laying his hands on the money saying he wanted to use it to buy military hardware from Israel to be used in anti-poaching operations.

“It has been brought to my attention that NPF [National Petroleum Fund] order does make provision variation and therefore the allocation should be used for the procurement as requested initially,” wrote Dr Obakeng to Kgosi.

This statement by the Permanent secretary forms the core of leads into the DIS real intentions when making the P250 million requests.

DCEC investigators say the plot thickens when the letter withdrawing variations is looked against further concerns that the DIS alleged purchases were made from a supplier not cleared by the Israeli Government.

The DIS has however gone on record to say an End User Certificate by the Israeli Ministry of Defence was issued for their purchases.  

The decision by DIS to go ahead and purchase drones is of immediate interests because it plays into the narrative by insiders that DIS never really intended to attach ethical propriety to the P250 million as shown by request for variation immediately after the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board insisted against direct appointment of designers and contractors, calling instead for an open tender.

According to the rules governing the National Petroleum Fund the following should be paid for by the Funds: costs for engineering, construction, and operation of the strategic storage, sums of money to the oil industry for stabilisation of prices, costs of petroleum products for Government’s strategic oil reserves and also the management and audit of the Fund. 

Inside Government, tensions are already rising that the Fund that only two years ago stood at P1.2 billion has now been drawn and drained down to P400 million with not much to show for the huge draw down.

The apparent abuse of the Fund has resulted in a cold tussle between some Ministry officials who want to continue to keep the Fund as a power base and the recently established regulatory authority, BERA (Botswana Energy Regulatory Authority) that wants the Fund transferred to its custody.

DCEC officials intend to call DIS leadership to render an account of when they received the letter from Dr Obakeng in which she states among other thing that she was withdrawing her permission to DIS to divert the Funds.

After learning that diverting the money from the Fund would be remiss, Dr Obakeng ends her statement with the following” 

“I therefore wish to withdraw my correspondence referenced SMMEWR 1/5/32 I (4) dated 24 October 2017 addressed to your good office. I apologise for any inconvenienced caused,” wrote the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Minerals and Energy.

Sunday Standard investigations have also turned up information that the DIS boss did not have off-budget expenditure authorization for the procurement of drones from Israel.

An off ÔÇôbudget expenditure is an expenditure that does not go through the normal budgeting process, is not accounted for in the budget document as it is funded through separate agencies.

The Botswana Finance and Audit Act 8 of 2006 permit off-budget expenditure but also place a limit on this kind of expenditure. Off-budget expenditure has to be approved by a public officer (section 6) or the Permanent Secretary (section 7). 

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