The State has lined up 13 witnesses, including high profile personalities, in its bid to prove a case against potentially the biggest fish the Masisi administration could land so far in its ongoing crusade against corruption.
Carter Morupisi, appointed Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP) and Secretary to Cabinet in October 2014, this Tuesday formally appeared in court charged with three counts relating to his alleged role in the misappropriation of about P500 million from the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF).
President Masisi suspended his right-hand man on Tuesday, triggering jubilation amongst many civil servants and unionists who view Morupisi as their ‘number one enemy’.
According to a witness list seen by Mmegi yesterday, those set to take the stand against Morupisi include BPOPF CEO, Boitumelo Molefe, prominent attorney, Mboki Chilisa, one-time acting Directorate of Public Service Management director, Tefo Bogosi and others. The list also includes a one-time BPOPF lawyer and a professional with a major audit firm.
This week, highly placed insiders told Mmegi the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) was keen to make its case against Morupisi watertight, as part of a campaign to recover the funds alleged to be missing from the pension fund.
“People believe the DCEC is all talk and no action and that it avoids the big cases.
A successful proving of the charges against Morupisi will be a feather in the cap of the corruption watchdog and will show that when it sinks its teeth into a matter, it does not let go until the end,” sources said.
On count one, which is abuse of office, the State says that Morupisi while employed as the PSP authorised local asset management firm, Capital Management Botswana (CMB) to administer BPOPF funds as a private equity manager and in the process obtained valuable consideration for himself and his wife’s company.
“The accused person whilst employed as permanent secretary to the President, a public officer who held the position of board chairperson for BPOPF on or about November 11, 2014 without final resolution of the board and while the board’s functions were suspended by order of the court, signed a contract with CMB on behalf of BPOPF authorising pension funds for himself and his wife company,” the charge sheet reads.
Count two has been the subject of several media headlines. Morupisi is accused of accepting
CMB directors, through a web of companies and transactions allegedly bought and facilitated the Morupisis’ receipt of the vehicle. Mmegi investigations previously indicated that the double cab Land Cruiser was bought for a total R630,388.99 from a South African dealership on December 14, 2016. The last count, which is of money laundering, alleges that Morupisi and his wife acted together on or about May 15, 2017 and laundered the same amount of P630,988.99, which amount was the proceeds of crime.
“When public money changes hands between accounts and is diverted from its initial purpose, this gives rise to the money laundering charge,” sources told Mmegi.
Morupisi’s appearance in court marks nearly two years of back and forth investigations, which at some point had apparently ground to a halt. In February this year, a local publication claimed the DCEC had cleared Morupisi of all corruption in the CMB matter, but the appointment of new DCEC head, Brigadier Joseph Mathambo appears to have re-energised the investigations.
In April, Mathambo told Mmegi he was reopening 13 prominent corruption cases that had closed due to the alleged insufficient evidence.
Prior to that, in March, Mmegi had also reported that two DCEC sleuths on the trail of Morupisi’s alleged entanglement in CMB’s affairs had been transferred to other ministries or capacities allegedly at the suspended PSP’s instigation.
Morupisi began his career as an Assistant Animal Production Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture in 1982, rising through the ranks to the head of the civil service.
The suspended PSP survived the reshuffles Masisi made upon ascension in April 2018 and thereafter became the public face of the divisions between the new administration and former president, Seretse Khama Ian Khama.
Morupisi took Khama head-on, revealing that government had bent backwards and even broken the law to accommodate the former president’s post-retirement requests.