Former Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security minister, Saqidue Kebonang has been summoned to appear tomorrow before the parliament's Public Accounts Committee to answer for his role in the P230 million National Petroleum Fund (NPF) scandal.
The ministry’s former permanent secretary, Obolokile Obakeng told the PAC earlier today that Kebonang placed considerable pressure on him to approve DIS director, Isaac Kgosi’s request to change the purpose for which his department had taken P230 million from the NPF last August.
Obakeng was last week demoted to deputy permanent secretary in the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services.
Documents before the PAC and also in court indicate that at Kgosi’s request, P230 million was transferred from the NPF last August initially to be used for the spy agency’s fuel storage facilities.
Kgosi allegedly later requested that the purpose for which he had taken the funds be changed to purchase national security equipment, in the area of anti-poaching and human trafficking.
The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime says the funds were laundered out of the country through multi-layered asset managers, eventually landing in far-flung countries.
Obakeng told the PAC that there was an element of fear when Kgosi’s application for change of use came before him.
“The environment under which I acceded to the change of use was one of pressure.
“The minister called me and said this was an urgent matter and the country was at risk. There was pressure from the minister and I also believed that my country was at risk.
“He called me on my mobile phone from his phone and said the DIS would bring a letter to me and there was no time; it had to be acceded to.
“Whether I was convinced or not, there no time to digest the request. The minister drafted the letter all the way
He added: “I was afraid. Not of losing my job, but perhaps that I would have acted negligently in a matter in which the country’s security was at risk.”
Obakeng also told the PAC that former Energy Affairs director, Kenneth Kerekang was being probed for P60 million that allegedly disappeared under his (Kerekang’s) watch. Kerekang and asset managers, Bakang Seretse and Botho Leburu have been charged in connection with the missing P230 million.
“We found that there was an account opened back in 2016 at Bank Gaborone under Kerekang’s direction and it was supposed to deal with the buying of strategic fuel stocks, but from our records, we did not see how he had the authority to open that account and put money there.
“We discovered that only last year. We don’t know what happened to that P60 million. It’s under investigation at the moment, but it is not related to the P230 million.”
The former PS also said Kgori Capital, in which Seretse was founder and managing director, had been paid P31 million by the ministry for an online system to track payments by oil companies towards the NPF. He said the procurement process used to engage Kgori for this was “anomalous” even though the service provided helped the Ministry track down defaulting oil companies.
Kebonang appears tomorrow before the PAC, while Kgosi is due before the end of week.