Eye popping details of multi-million Pula transactions that caught the attention of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and the Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA), leading to the arrest of Gaborone businessman Bakang Seretse, are emerging. Sources, who have been following developments which culminated in the arrest of Seretse and two other co-accused, have revealed that at the centre of the case are suspicious transactions amounting to over a quarter of a billion Pula which took place between August and November 2017 in accounts held in different local banks by the National Petroleum Fund (NPF) and companies owned by Seretse and one Botho Leburu - the other accused in the on-going money laundering case. Among other transactions, The Patriot on Sunday is reliably informed by sources that graft busters became curious when Kenneth Kerekang in his capacity as the Director of Energy instructed Seretse, whose company Kgori Capital manages the National Petroleum Fund to transfer P250 million to some accounts. The funds, which were to be used for funding the construction and expansion of petroleum storage facilities and security equipment in different parts of the country, had been requested from the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security. Allegations are that although the money was requested by the Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DIS) for the development and expansion of fuel storage facilities in Gaborone, Selibe-Phikwe and Francistown to ensure security of supply it was later intercepted by the Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA) after it was transferred to an unknown account in Israel. The transaction, which earned Seretse's company a whopping 20% commission on the total funds disbursed, set intelligence agents on the trail of the three men who are currently standing trial on charges of money laundering.
Seretse – the Managing Director of asset management firm Kgori Capital – Leburu and Kerekang, who have been languishing in remand custody since they were rounded up last Sunday were on Friday granted conditional bail by Gaborone Regional Magistrate court. Gaborone Regional Magistrate Christopher Gabanagae released them on bail after the state failed to demonstrate that the trio were a flight risk. State prosecutors had opposed the bail application on the basis that the trio are a flight risk and might skip the country but the argument was dismissed by Gabanagae, who said the state has not provided sufficient evidence to substantiate the claim. Gabanagae ordered the accused to pay sureties of P30 000 each before close of business on Friday to secure freedom, failing which they would remain in detention until the next mention. They managed to beat the 1500hrs closing time for revenue offices in Broadhurst, Gaborone to pay the deposit after which they were released to join their families. According to the charge sheet, the three between September 5, 2017 and November 27, 2017 in Gaborone received various sums of money knowing or suspecting or having reasonable grounds to know, or suspecting or derived, or realised in whole, or in part, directly or indirectly from the commission of a confiscation offence, to wit, theft. The money at the centre of the suspected crime by the accused was drawn from the National Petroleum Fund (NPF), which is managed by Kgori Investment – a company co-owned and run by Bakang Seretse as Managing Director together with other investors not charged in the alleged offence.
The Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Sadique Kebonang distanced himself from the transactions, and the appointment of Kgori Investments to provide fund management services for the National Petroleum Fund. He was responding to a question in Parliament midweek on widespread allegations that he was also questioned by the DCEC for possible involvement as the NPF falls under his ministry. Kebonang told Parliament that when Kgori Investments was appointed as the fund managers in 2015 he was not in charge of the ministry. He denied having any business dealings with Seretse or any of the accused, saying he has only known Seretse personally for the past 30 years. Clarifying on the NPF, Kebonang said its accounts are held with RMB Corporate Bank, a subsidiary of First National Bank of Botswana. “The accounts for the NPF were however only transferred (to RMB) on the 7th November 2017 following some worrisome funds accounting experiences with the previous bank, Stanbic Bank Botswana, where a misappropriation of about P2 million had been noted,” he revealed, adding that funds were recovered from Stanbic bank hence the decision made later to transfer the account. As this matter continues consumers are set to bear a fuel price increase from Sunday, with all fuels going up by 30 Thebe.