The Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) has imported mercenaries through Dignia Systems, the Israeli company at the center of the P250 money laundering trial ÔÇô documents passed to the Sunday Standard have revealed.
The DIS shopping list that was handed to the Israeli company suggests that the Botswana spy outfit may be preparing for a civil strife. This indicates that the DIS Director General, Isaac Kgosi may not have been telling the truth when he said he needed the P250 million from the Petroleum Fund to buy anti-poaching equipment.
Dignia Systems which is a security solutions and defence technology company based in Israel was also contracted to provide VIP protection training and supply among other things a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle).
Top on the list with a price tag of US $17 million, (more than P170 million) is the Aeronautics Dignia. This is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle or RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems) commonly known as a drone.
Drones are used in situations where manned flight is considered too risky or difficult. Used mostly by the army, they provide troops with a 24-hour “eye in the sky”, seven days a week. Each aircraft can stay aloft for up to 17 hours at a time, loitering over an area and sending back real-time imagery of activities on the ground.
Dignia System has been accused by a Papua New Guinea publication of “gun-running, money-laundering, secret private armies, spying for corrupt leaders. “”
According to the invoice which has been made available to the Sunday Standard, Dignia Systems was also contracted to provide Commander’s VIP protection training. In most jurisdictions, VIP protection is usually provided for the President, the Vice President and Cabinet Ministers.
The DIS deal with Dignia Systems mirrors the Papua New Guinea scandal where the Israeli company is currently embroiled in a controversy after it was allegedly secretly contracted by the Prime Minister to create a private intelligence agency and secret paramilitary spy force.
Dignia Systems also provided SUV platform support.
Security consultants and a few military experts that Sunday Standard talked to said it is possible that at such a price, that model of drone had its price inflated by no sell than five times.
“In fact that price is for six drones complete with vehicles,” said a former army officer from the Botswana Defence Force that Sunday Standard approached to help dissect the invoice contents.
In Botswana the company has always had close ties with intelligence services DIS.
Sunday Standard investigations have turned up information that Dignia Systems operates a bank account at the same Israel Bank, Mizrahi Tfahot where the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime traced the P250 million it wants to freeze and seize.
The company recently came under close scrutiny after it emerged that the P250 million from the National Petroleum Fund that was disbursed to build fuel storages ended up at the company’s bank account.
The head of DIS had said he would be diverting the money because anti-poaching was now a priority over fuel storages.
That is notwithstanding a memorandum from Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Minerals where NPF is housed, withdrawing an earlier permission he had offered to divert the money.
In his withdrawal letter Dr Obakeng said diverting the funds from NPF would be against the rules governing the Fund.
Another question put to the security experts locally was to make an assessment of the extent to which the items listed on the invoice formed part of ant-poaching efforts.
“The prices aside, there is no how bringing commandos here from Israel can be said to be part of anti-poaching. In any case there is ample experience in Botswana’s security forces especially at BDF to provide such a service to the DIS at not direct cost,” said a retired military officer.
In an invoice that Sunday Standard saw, the company sent a bill totaling $23 million to Kulac Management Services – a company owned and managed by Bakang Seretse on behalf of the DIS.
Perhaps underscoring the close relations that Dignia Systems has with the DIS is the fact that a close look at the documents reveals that payment to Dignia Systems was delivered even before a contract was signed with the DIS.