Monday, October 25, 2021

DISS curious money trail suggests off budget spending

A curious Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) money trail details how the spy agency’s P 500 million procurement of a TETRA digital trunking radio system from VLATACOM was spread across a number of government departments over more than five years.

Vlatacom is the company believed to have paid about P 1million towards the purchase of Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) Director General, Isaac Kgosi’s farm in Sentlhane Farms.

Sunday Standard investigations have revealed that money was taken from the Office of the President’s budget, the Department of Justice and Security and the DISS to pay P 467, 891, 591 66. to Vlatacom between 2009 and  2015  for the supply and installation of a TETRA digital trunking radio system for DISS.

The money from the Office of the President and DJS was outside the warranted budget provisions of the DISS during the budget periods.

Sunday Standard has turned up information indicating that between 2nd March 2009 and 17th March 2010 Vlatacom presented six invoices valued at P 131, 838,589.70 to the Office of the President which were duly paid. Less than two months after the payment was made, on 3rd August 2009, Vlatacom Managing Director, Vladimir Cizeij made a SWIFT transfer of P687, 000 into the Collins Newman & Co trust account with Barclays Bank for the purchase of Sentlhane Farm currently owned by Isaac Kgosi.

Investigations have revealed that another P39, 233, 582.23 was paid to Vlatacom from the Office of the President Budget allocation on 31st March 2015.

Between 27th August 2010 and 10th May 2012 Vlatacom presented five invoices to the DISS valued at P195, 793, 596.22. Between 6th February 2014 and 9th June 2015 Vlatacom presented nine invoices to the DISS with a value of P87, 550, 462.36 which were all settled by the spy agency.

Sunday Standard has also turned up information that between 11th February 2015 and 30 March 2015 Vlatacom sent two invoices to the Department of Justice and Security amounting to P 13, 475 361 .15 which were also settled.

Information captured in the “Botswana Government Department Wise Payment details” reveals that the total amount paid to Vlatacom during the period is P467, 891,591.66.

The Transparency International Government anti-Defence Corruption Index has red flagged Botswana’s off budget spending, suggesting a critical weakening of the country’s financial controls. An off budget expenditure is an expense that is not included in the national budget and is funded through other means. The international watchdog assigned a zero score rating and red colour coding for Botswana under the index of “Off budget spending in law”.

Transparency International also assigned Botswana Zero grade for legislative access to information. This suggests that although Botswana security services are engaged in unlawful off budget spending, there is no oversight from Parliament which approves the national budget.

The watchdog also assigned zero grade and red colour coding for secret auditing program.

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