Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Graft accused former China Civil Engineering boss skips country

Village Magistrate Court Chief Magistrate Oahile Mokibe has issued a warrant of arrest against former China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) General Manager, Xiaming Wang, who is believed to have skipped the country after he was charged with attempting to bribe former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology, Carter Murupisi, with a cash amount of P250 000 so that he could use his position to assist them to complete the Shakawe school project which had defects and did not meet required construction standards.

Wang was fired as CCECC General Manager early July, during the week the corporation’s international president Yuan Li flew into Botswana to apologise for the Shakawe blunder.

In an interview with The Sunday Standard, Yuan Li indicated that “the whole Shakawe Senior Secondary School construction team will be replaced except for one or two engineers”.

The prosecutor in the corruption case, Merapelo Mokgosi, told the court last Friday that Wang could not be located and had failed to honour his bail conditions, and therefore his Tlokweng mansion, valued at P3 million, would be forfeited to the state. The defense counsel, attorney Dick Bayford, told the court that he was embarrassed that he did not know the whereabouts of his client and that he had withdrawn as his defence lawyer.

Sunday Standard investigations reveal that two days after he was fired as CCECC General Manager, Wang went to the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) to ask for his traveling document claiming that he wanted consult a medical specialist in Zambia. The DCEC is understood to have allowed him to leave the country.

Mokgosi said “it is possible that the state may withdraw all charges because the first accused person has disappeared”.

She said should Wang be re-arrested the case would then be reinstated. The case is scheduled for next Friday when the court will decide whether to continue with the trial or not.
DCEC spokesperson, Lentswe Motshoganetsi, was not available for comment.

It is alleged that Wang and his co-accused tried to cover up the Shakawe construction blunder by attempting to bribe government officials. The Shakwawe project was a joint venture between China Civil, Tuwana and Whitacon. Wang was charged alongside Whitacom Managing Director Xiaoxing Qiu and CCECC project manager, Liu Wengsheng. The CCECC Project manager is understood to have been fired together with Wang and others who were involved in the Shakawe project.

CCECC president Yuan Li, who is based in China, flew into Botswana last month and met officials from the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology to tender an apology and present proposals that will “ensure that Botswana gets a fair deal, does not suffer any inconvenience from the issue and walk out of it happy”.

Although a structural analysis report by structural specialists, William Lee and Associates, states that “even if the brick force are omitted in the existing brick walls at Shakawe Senior Secondary School, its structures would still be stable, fit for purpose and capable of withstanding the loads for which they were designed. Furthermore, no structural defects have existed in the building walls,” Yuan Li told Sunday Standard that among other things, China Civil will “refund government payment of brick force; take necessary and reasonable steps to reinforce the structures; extend the defect liability period by 12 months to 24 months and that during this period and afterwards a maintenance team will be available at all times to attend to defects arising from omissions of brick force”.

The deal is expected to come at a huge financial cost to China Civil; Yuan Li, however, would not discuss the losses they are likely to incur saying “I am not worried about the financial losses. My main concern is that Botswana should get a fair deal”.

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