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Suspects face more than 260 years in prison

Business

… Accused of defrauding RSL over M1,823 million

Staff Reporter

A cloud of legal uncertainty hovers over Nxetane Kheswa, a suspended employee of Revenue Services Lesotho (RSL), along with former colleagues Ngaka Leteba and Ramaqele Khechane, as they stand on the precipice of potentially facing a combined prison sentence exceeding 260 years, pending the outcome of their trial.

The trio has been brought before the Leribe Magistrate Court to face charges that span false or misleading statements and money laundering.

In a riveting legal showdown, Kheswa, Leteba, and Ramaqele faced the judicial process this week, their fate hanging in the balance.

Collectively, the trio confronts a staggering 22 charges in alignment with section (70) (1) (A) of the Value Added Tax Act No.9 of 2001, compounded by section 70(1), (ii), (3)(a)(b), and (e) of the same Act.

Additionally, they are simultaneously beset by 22 counts under section 70(5) read alongside section 109 (3) of the Penal Code Act of 2010.

The legal complexity deepens as they also stand accused of violating section 25(1) (A) and (I) of the Money Laundering Act 2008, interwoven with section 25 (2) of the Money Laundering Act 2008, as amended by section 20 of the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act No.7 of 2016.

The case is rooted in allegations asserting that Kheswa, in cahoots with former superiors Leteba and Khechane, orchestrated a financial gambit that involved the acquisition, possession, or utilisation of a substantial M 1,823,692.21 for personal gain.

The alleged gains are purported to have been sourced from importers affiliated with RSL.

As the narrative goes, the scheme’s strategic manoeuvring included the falsification of payment receipts within the RSL payment system.

This subterfuge reportedly propagated false payment data into the ASYCUDA world system, the arbiter of goods clearance.

This alleged manipulation, in turn, facilitated the passage of goods through borders sans the obligatory payment of import VAT.

The investigation’s unfolding journey saw the suspension of Kheswa from RSL, while Leteba and Khechane opted for resignation amidst ongoing inquiries.

An ominous shadow hangs over the trio as they potentially face a cumulative sentence that threatens to span 264 years in confinement, RSL said in a statement this week.

An alternative outcome includes a possible fine of M1,188,000.00, or a combination of both, as indicated in a statement by RSL.

Presiding over the legal proceedings was Magistrate Mpotla Koaesa, with prosecution led by Adv Lechesa Mahao.

Advocates Masoeu and Malabulabu served as the legal representatives for the accused. Bail was granted under the condition that each accused individual submit a deposit of M5,000.00.

The spotlight shifts to RSL, which has adamantly asserted its unwavering commitment to combatting fraud, money laundering, and corruption in all their manifestations.

In a call to arms, RSL encouraged the public and taxpayers to report any suspicions of corruption or theft involving RSL employees.

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