Vlatacom, 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 has received about half a billion Pula ( P500 million) worth of tenders from the DISS and Office of the President (OP) between 2008 and 2015, Sunday Standard investigations have revealed.
The total amount paid to Vlatacom during President Lt. Gen. Ian Khama’s tenure, which stands at P 467, 891,591.66 is more than twice the annual development budget for the Ministry of Health, which was P 203 million in the 2015 budget; and slightly less than two thirds of the annual development budget for the Ministry of Education which was P844 million in 2015.
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. Indications are that the payments may have been for work commissioned by DISS. Sunday Standard investigations have revealed that one of the invoices made out to the Office of the President, invoice No 100 ÔÇô T- 0002 with a value of P43, 945,312.50 paid on 15th June 2009 was for the supply and installation of a TETRA digital trunking radio system for DISS. 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.
Documents passed to Sunday Standard have revealed that the P 43 million paid to Vlatacom for the DISS radio system was a second down payment. The paper, however could not establish the value of the first down payment and the date on which it was made. Investigations have further revealed that between 27th August 2010 and 10th May 2012 Vlatacom presented five invoices to the DISS valued at P195, 793, 596.22
Sunday Standard has also turned up information that 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. Information captured in the “Botswana Government Department Wise Payment details” states that the total amount paid to Vlatacom during the period is P467, 891,591.66
At the time Vlatacom Managing Director Vladimir Cizeij started doing business with the Office of the President and DISS, around 2008, he was still reeling from a bribery scandal which had just played itself out in Serbia. Cizeij was accused of bribing Dejan Simic, former Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Serbia (NBS), and Vladimir Zagradjanin of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS). Simic was arrested in January 2006 on suspicion of having received a bribe of EUR 100,000 in his Belgrade apartment, while Zagradjanin was suspected of helping give the bribe. Cizeij was the man with the briefcase in the case that came to be known as the “briefcase affair.” Although the accused in the case where set free by the Serbian court, there was a hue and cry in Serbia about a miscarriage of justice which was believed to have contributed to the fall of the Serbian government. Cizeij is understood to have been delivering the briefcase for former Director of the Kreditno-Eksportna Bank (KEB) Sekula Pjevcevic,, who was later indicted as one of the leaders of a criminal group known as the “bankruptcy mafia,” whose members were indicted of financial fraud worth millions of Euros.
BDF intelligence briefs
Before his big break under the Khama administration, Cizeij was a shady character who piqued the interest of the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Military Intelligence when he first tried to set up in Botswana in 2000. MI files passed to the Sunday Standard state that he was a representative of Tahal ÔÇô a company that developed Botswana’s Agricultural Master Plan back in the 1990s. Cizelj’s focus shifted to military procurement later when he plotted to unseat Procon, an Israeli company that was responsible for maintaining BDF’s F-5 fleet. The BDF military intelligence tried to do a background check on Cizeij whom they code-named Mr V. In one detailed statement that has been passed to the Sunday Standard, a BDF informer states that, Vladimir Cizeij, “made it clear to me in our initial meetings that he was very well connected with the Israeli defence industry, which of course was of great interest.”
Another letter dated 10th July 2000 relayed information to the BDF that the Israeli Ministry of Defence, SIBAT stated that, “they are not able to tell us classified information but they are willing to confirm that Mr V is known to them; his company is known to them; Mr V has no security clearance and Mr V is therefore not permitted to represent any company or product in our line of business.”