Former president Ian Khama has dismissed as ‘ridiculous’ allegations that he and Isaac Kgosi stole more than P100 billion from public coffers.
This has been revealed in an affidavit deposed in court in a case against a senior intelligence officer of the Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DIS), Welheminah Maswabi, code named ‘Butterfly’.
It is alleged that Khama and the former spy chief, Kgosi instructed Bank of Botswana (BoB) to open three bank accounts that were used to loot public funds amounting to over P100 billion.
Maswabi is facing three counts of financing terrorism, possession of unexplained property and false declaration for passports that make her the key to the Pandora’s box of allegations coming out against Khama and others.
Speaking exclusively to Mmegi yesterday at his office Khama said: “My reaction is that, once you get over the initial reaction of astonishment of such a ridiculous allegation, I will say it is laughable. Completely laughable, because if you loot P100 billion, I wouldn’t know how to loot one million not even billions”.
The former president added that, “and then when you put it, so if you loot it, if you engage in that kind of criminality, you only loot money. Whoever loots money that is theft in other (words) to use it for your own benefit at some stage. So P100 billion can buy you a lot. Even if we took half of it, how have I benefited?”
He asked rhetorically: “What have you seen that has been put in overseas accounts? There must be some evidence overseas that can be traced that money bought mansions, or vehicles or businesses overseas.
That will come out and it is very easy to trace. If it was used in Botswana that is even easier for the people here to be able to say we have seen the former president buying this, building this, engaging in this business and that business to show that he suddenly found a lot of money or came into a lot of money in recent years. There is zero that can be pointed out. This is just fake news designed deliberately to discredit me”.
Khama also disclosed that he and controversial South African businesswoman Bridgette Motsepe-Radebe, who was also mentioned in court, have agreed that these allegations were so outrageous and cannot be ignored.
The two have agreed that they were going to engage their respective attorneys as a team with auditors from South Africa and from Botswana, and they are going to instruct them to follow these allegations
“They have to go to Bank of Botswana. They have to be given access to investigate. They have to… go and examine those bank accounts, which are said to be overseas to… establish if they exist and how.”
He added that he believes that allegations of terrorism, money funded for terrorism against them, must be followed as well.
“They must engage foreign governments and the United Nations, which has anti-terrorism entities and say ‘such money was given to terrorism, can you help us trace which terrorism organisations were being funded and how was this money sent to them?’ That needs to come out.
You can’t make allegations and then leave them there to tarnish somebody’s name. We are going to embark upon the exercise of that nature to get to the bottom of it.”
His last point was that apart from his own reputation and that of Motsepe-Radebe, Kgosi and Maswabi for being implicated, there was another entity more important than the four of them, the BoB.
He said the BoB was a national entity and an organisation that contributed immensely to the economic development and financial prudence of the country.
“I think those professionals there getting instructions from a new president to withdraw certain millions or billions to put them into these accounts is ridiculous. And will they just do it without saying anything? Is that believable? Why is this thing happening now? Why now when there was something else on social media revealing that we were going to be fixed after the general elections?”
He also denied owning an offshore account. “I don’t and I am glad I don’t. I took a decision some years ago when our exchange control regulations were lifted that Batswana could have offshore accounts and send money overseas without any kind of limitations.”
He added: “One, I said I am not going to do it for the reason that I live in Botswana, why would I need an offshore account? All my activities I do here, everything I do is here in Botswana, I don’t need an offshore account and I don’t intend to have businesses or properties outside the country.
Secondly, I said this nonsense would arise. If you have an offshore account it always comes to some kind of belief that you could be up to something. Why will you be sending your money outside the country?”