Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Motsepe writes to Pan African Parliament

Subsequent to a self-sanctioned and paid for report which ostensibly exenorates her from wrong doing, South African businesswoman Bridgette Motsepe – currently a Goodwill Ambassador – has written to the Pan African Parliament to clear her name from allegations of money laundering.

Through her lawyers, Webber Wentzel law firm, Motsepe has written a confidential letter which is “being sent to the Ambassador for onward circulation by her to certain of her stakeholders who have a need to be updated on the public controversy involving the Government of Botswana.” 

The law firm wrote: “We are instructed to provide an overview of the developments in this matter. The Ambassador alleges that she was defamed by Mr. Jako Hubona (“Mr. Hubona”), an investigator employed by the Botswana Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime. He deposed to an affidavit in proceedings before the High Court of Botswana on 29 October 2019.”

“This affidavit effectively implicates, under oath, [Former President Ian] Khama, and Ambassador Motsepe, in money laundering and indirectly financing terrorism” reads the letter in part. 

The letter informs Motsepe’s ‘stakeholders’ that the “primary allegation against the Ambassador, at paragraph 19.8 of the Hubona affidavit, is that she is a co-signatory with other people including the accused in a criminal prosecution in Botswana, Ms Welheminah Maswabi (“Ms. Maswabi”), in relation to theBlue Flies (Pty) Ltd and Fire Flies (Pty) Ltd bank accounts.”

In particular, the Hubona affidavit makes reference to 17 bank accounts, held at 8 banks with a South African presence and 3 other banks / financial institutions, held in the name of either Blue Flies (Pty) Ltd or Fire Flies (Pty) Ltd – the companies to which, it is alleged, the Ambassador is a co-signatory.

“The Ambassador appointed a UK-based law firm, Omnia Strategy LLP (“Omnia”), headed by Cherie Blair QC, and Alaco Limited (“Alaco”) a UK-based business intelligence consultancy, to conduct an independent investigation into the veracity of the allegations concerning the Ambassador in the Hubona affidavit and to compile a report on the findings of their investigation,” says the letter.

The letter states that the investigators appointed by Motsepe and Khama conducted a thorough and forensic review of the detail of the Hubona affidavit, as well as the annexures thereto, related legal filings, professional reports from third parties, corporate filings and other documentation.

They undertook open source research in a number of jurisdictions, including but not limited to the Republic of South Africa, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States; and contacted and engaged with numerous companies, individuals and financial institutions referenced in the Hubona affidavit.

“On 7 July 2020, we wrote to the Governor of the Reserve Bank for confirmation of whether the transfer of USD 48 million was approved by the Reserve Bank on 21 February 2019 as alleged in the Hubona affidavit. In response, the Reserve Bank has confirmed that it has no records of the alleged transfer,” reads the letter from Motsepe’s lawyers. 

The lawyers further stated that Omnia and Alaco also confirm that these companies do not exist, after their investigation into existence of these companies in South Africa and globally.

“We assisted the Ambassador in writing to the relevant South African banks / financial institutions for confirmation that the Blue Flies and Fire Flies bank accounts do not exist and, accordingly, that she cannot be a co-signatory thereto,” the letter states. 

The lawyers further added that “it is troubling to the Ambassador that, despite the public statement of the Bank of Botswana to parliamentarians in November 2019, the government of Botswana in June 2020 enlisted AfriForum to assist Botswana in its request for mutual legal assistance to South Africa.”

The lawyers also stated: “It is furthermore surprising to our client in any event that despite the reported statements by the Governor of the Bank of Botswana, the prosecution of Ms. Maswabi continues in the Botswana courts and by association, Ms. Maswabi’s prosecution continues to taint the Ambassador and former President Ian Khama.”

The Ambassador, the lawyers state, “takes the view that this matter is of the utmost significance. Her reputation is on the line and she wants to urgently clear her name. Moreover, the Hubona affidavit has tarnished the reputation of former President Ian Khama and also of Ms. Maswabi, who faces a criminal trial and the threat of imprisonment. The Hubona affidavit has now been discredited in material respects.” 

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper

The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.