Sunday, October 17, 2021

Local bogus agent ‘knocks’ Spanish company

The Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and the Ministry of Trade have been caught up in a multi- million Pula fraud scandal after a Spanish military and security company which was expected to set up in the country was allegedly swindled by Botswana’s crooked tenderpreneurs.

Suyfa Defence, a Spanish company which was planning to operate from Botswana to supply the region with military and security equipment has fallen victim to a P150-million fraudulent tender.

The BDF and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment were used in the fraudulent tender documents to defraud SUYFA DEFENCE, which was lured into investing in Botswana during the Global Expo in 2015.  

Global Expo was conceptualised by the government of Botswana in 2006 as a premier business-to-business exposition to attract foreign direct investment (FDI), by Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment representatives.

The Spanish company was duped into signing a contract with alleged fraudsters who claimed to be representing the BDF and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment.

Information obtained by Sunday Standard revealed that after holding talks with Suyfa Defence representatives an female employee at the Ministry of Trade introduced her friend to the potential investors to be their agent in Botswana.

The agent is reported to have convinced the BDF and other security agencies to hold a seminar at which representatives of Suyfa made their presentations.

According to insiders close to the case, a number of security agencies who attended the fully packed meeting were impressed with presentations from the Spanish company. Sunday Standard has turned up information that after the presentations, the agent then obtained a letterhead of the BDF and used official stamps from the Ministry of Trade to prepare fake tender documents.

Documents for the fake tender worth P150 million were couriered to Spain for the representatives of Suyfa Defence to sign and prepare to supply the military equipment which among others included tyres.

According to an agreement between the company and their local agent, Suyfa Defence was to pay him 10 percent of the contract price for the goods sold.

After receiving the documents which the company believed were from the Ministry of Trade and Industry (on behalf of BDF), Suyfa Defence decided to pay upfront 50 percent of the 10 percent that they had agreed with the agent pending the delivery of the goods and payment from the ministry and BDF.  The company paid the agent P7.8 million.

The company then requested the agent to send them a letter of credit so that they could send it to their suppliers. It was then that the agent started to send representatives of Suyfa Defence from pillar to post. The company then launched a formal complaint with the Ministry of Trade through one of their consultants in Botswana. It was discovered that neither the BDF nor the Ministry had prepared or issued the tender in question.

Assistant Superintendent Thalina Mogaga of the Serious Crime Squad of the Botswana Police Service confirmed that the suspects have been arrested and appeared before court recently.

BDF Director of Protocol and Public Affairs Colonel Tebo Dikole said “the matter in question is sub judice and it is therefore inappropriate for the BDF to make any pronouncements on a matter that is before courts of law.”

Sunday Standard has established that investigations are ongoing in attempt to recoup the money and only P2.5 million has been recovered. A brand new Discovery Four motor vehicle has been seized while investigations are also ongoing to halt the purchase of a house in Gaborone.

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