By Thoboloko Ntšonyane

MASERU – The Revenue Services Lesotho (RSL) has suspended one of its employees in connection to charges of misleading or false statements and money laundering.

These developments were announced by the RSL in a statement last week.

According to RSL, the suspended employee, Nxetane Kheswa in concert with two former employees, Ngaka Leteba and Ramaqele Khechane made a brief appearance before the Leribe Magistrate Court and are charged with false or misleading statements and money laundering.

The statement further indicates that the accused face 22 counts for allegedly contravening the provisions of section 70(1) (A) of the Value Added Tax No.9 of 2001 read with section 70(1), (3) (a) (b) and (e) of the same Act.

In the alternative, they are charged with 22 counts for allegedly violating section 70(5) read with section 109(3) of the Penal Code Act of 2010. They also face charges for allegedly contravening the provisions of section 25(1) (A) and (I) of the Money Laundering Act 2008 read with section 25(2) of Money Laundering Act of 2008 as amended by section 20 of the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act No. 7 of 2016.

“It is alleged that the first accused Nxetane Kheswa acting in concert and sharing a common intention or purpose with his former supervisors Ngaka Leteba  and Ramaqele Khechane acquired, possessed or used cash amounting to M1, 823, 692.21 for personal gain from importers that were RSL Clients through falsifying their payment receipts in the RSL payments system which ultimately communicated false payments into the ASYCUDA world system (Goods clearance system) and thus allowing goods to pass through the border without import VAT paid.

“Nxetane Kheswa was suspended from the RSL upon the launch of the investigations of this case while Ngaka Leteba and Ramaqele Khechane resigned in the midst of the investigations. If convicted on the above charges, the trio could face a cumulative sentence of 264 years imprisonment or a fine of M1, 188, 000.00 or both,” reads the statement in pertinent part.

It is reported that the accused appeared before Magistrate Mpotla Koaesa, and the case was prosecuted by Advocate Lechesa Mahao while the accused were represented by Advocate Masoeu and Advocate Malabulabu respectively.

They were released upon a payment of a bail deposit of M5 000.00 each. 

In July, RSL reported that one of its former employees, Bahlakoana Makhele is up for fraud charges for allegedly soliciting a bribe of M75, 738.90 and the case is before the courts of law.

“RSL is committed to the fight against fraud, money laundering and corruption in all its forms especially within its own ranks,” RSL said in a statement urging taxpayers to report suspected corruption and theft cases by its employees.