Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Minister Seretse rebuffs Spanish military company

The Botswana Government and a Spanish military and Security Company, Suyfa Defence, appear headed for showdown over a P90 million procurement fraud scandal.

The Minister of Trade and Industry Vincent Seretse has reacted sharply to the company’s demands totalling more than P90 million from Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and Ministry of Trade alleging that it was swindled by Botswana’s crooked tenderprenuers and officers from the two organisations using the BDF and Ministry’s offices to flight a fraudulent tender to supply BDF with spare parts. 

Sunday Standard in possession of a letter from Minister Seretse informing Suyfa Defence and its representatives in Botswana that government won’t accede to its demands.

“Reference is made to your correspondence Ref: GK mpl/sdi 002 in which you had requested the Ministry to assist your client in receiving goods produced at the instance of an illegal contract,” Seretse stated in a letter in which he was responding to the Spanish company’s agents in Botswana. 

He added that “Please note that I cannot accede to your request. Government procurement processes do not permit the Ministry to do as you are requesting. Therefore, we cannot assist your client in anyway.”

 Lawyers representing Suyfa Defence, Gobhoza Legal Practice have since notified the Attorney General of their intention to institute legal proceedings against the BDF and the Ministry.

The Spanish company insists that it was made to sign a fraudulent contract by the Ministry of Trade, one Kutlo Kalanke who identified herself as Trade and Investment Officer within the Department of International Trade and responsible for facilitating investment and trade deals during a during 2015 BITC expo.

According to the lawyers, Kalanke recommended one Benedict Tebogo Molefe, a Director of a locally incorporated company called Outtoppe Sonke Holdings (PYT) Ltd who entered into the fraudulent contract with the company.

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(Benedict Tebogo)  P7.8 million.

The contract which has been passed to the Sunday Standard bears the stamp of the Ministry of Trade. The alleged fraudulent contract was signed by Kalanke on behalf of the ministry while Suyfa Defence General Manager Juan Antonio Martin signed on behalf of the company.

Kalanke also signed and issued and End User Certificate to Suyfa Defence, dated 21 December 2016 in which she confirmed that “The Botswana Government (Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry) according to contract C/HQ/4/26 XII (69) DCCP dated 16 December has placed an order for the supply of spare parts/landrover/man truck tyres and batteries and general purpose Parts). 

In another related matter, Sunday Standard has also seen a “Letter of appreciation to Sufya Defence” signed by Brigadier Mokgwathi on behalf of the Commander of BDF.

“The Office of the Commander, Botswana Defence Force extends warm greetings to the Management of Suyfa Defence. Reference is made to the PowerPoint presentation on Suyfa Defence’s various capabilities made to the BDF made by Mr David Fernandez on Thursday November 2016 in Gaborone, Botswana, wrote Brigadier Mokgwathi in his letter dated 15 December 2016.

He added that the “The BDF would like to extend its sincere gratitude to the well-informed and articulate manner in which the presentation was conducted.” 

Therefore the company said Kalanke was acting within the course of and of her employment during 2015 BITC exp when she fraudulently referred the company to Molefe, when she was fully aware that Molefe was a conman and a fraudster. 

Suyfa Defence said that with regard to BDF, “particularly Brigadier Domcaza Kengaletswe Mokgwathi and whoever signed the letters purporting to be the latter acted fraudulently and maliciously by issuing such letters under the protected seal of BDF whilst  within the course and scope of their employment.”

Therefore the company is demanding more than P90 million being payments “effected to third parties pursuant and as result if the Respondents’ employees misconduct.”

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper