NATIONAL NEWS - South African businesswoman Bridgette Motsepe-Radebe, whose name was cleared by South African banks of allegations that she illegally moved money to Botswana to effect regime change, now faces new allegations that she was involved in a $48 million (about R827.6 million) money-laundering and fraud matter in that country.
However, the businesswoman – who is the sister-in-law of President Cyril Ramaphosa and sister to billionnaire businessman Patrice Motsepe – has vehemently denied all allegations after AfriForum announced on Tuesday that it has been appointed by the Botswana government “to facilitate its request to the SA government for mutual legal assistance in a money-laundering and fraud case”.
“The baseless allegations repeated by AfriForum are that I was a co-signatory of at least two bank accounts (one of which was an Absa and the other a Nedbank account) holding funds allegedly stolen from the Botswana government to finance a coup before Botswana’s national elections.
“This bizarre allegation was first made in an affidavit deposed to by Mr Jako Hubona, an investigator in Botswana’s Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime, during the bail application by Ms Wilhelmina Maswabi in Botswana. In this affidavit, it is alleged that I am one of the co-signatories on South African bank accounts held at various banks including Absa and Nedbank owned by two companies: Blue Flies and Fire Flies.
“There is no truth to these allegations. I have never laundered money. I have denied these allegations since December last year on the basis of readily available evidence which has already been widely reported on in both South Africa and Botswana media.
“The allegations in Mr Hubona’s affidavit have already been discredited and refuted before the Botswana High Court including by an analyst who conducted a forensic investigation into the claims and has confirmed on oath that Blue Flies and Fire Flies are not registered companies. Furthermore, both Absa and Nedbank have also confirmed in writing that the bank accounts referred to, do not exist.
“It is preposterous to allege that I am a co-signatory of bank accounts that don’t exist held by companies which also don’t exist. As stated in the Nedbank letter: ‘After conducting a search on our Nedbank systems, we have been unable to find any accounts in the name of Blue Flies (Pty) Ltd / Bluefiles (Pty) Ltd / Fireflies (Pty) Ltd , nor any accounts with the account numbers mentioned. It therefore follows that you cannot be, and are not, a signatory on such non-existent accounts’.
“In a response from Absa: ‘By way of response to the various queries contained in your letter, we made the following observations; Absa has no record of any account with designated number 40892246893’.
“The Bank of Botswana has also publicly refuted the claims. The Governor of The Bank of Botswana, Moses Pelaelo, is quoted in The Botswana Gazette on the 26th November 2019 as saying: ‘It’s all rubbish’ (sic). The article continues: ‘Briefing Members of Parliament last week, the Governor denied any knowledge of the purported instruction and the missing P100 billion, saying the central bank never had that amount of money in its accounts in the first place. Botswana’s GDP (the total value of goods produced and services provided in a country during one year) is estimated at P180 billion, which makes the alleged loot to be around 60 percent of the value of Botswana’s economy. On average, Botswana’s annual national budget circles between P50 billion and P60 billion’.
“I have appointed international law firm Omnia Strategy LLP, led by Cherie Blair CBE QC, and a leading international business intelligence company, Alaco Limited, to conduct an independent investigation into these allegations. I am in consultation with my lawyers and intend to sue all parties who have publicly made false accusations about me in the Hubona affidavit.
“AfriForum also repeats the unsubstantiated allegation that I laundered money to sponsor a candidate in the Botswana national elections. This claim – emanating from a newspaper in Botswana – is also entirely baseless. I have instructed my lawyers to issue proceedings against the newspaper for defamation, to address this disinformation. These proceedings will be launched imminently.
“We urge the Governor of the Reserve Bank of South Africa as well as the Governor of the Bank of Botswana to confirm if any money was either sent into SA or out of SA as stated in the Hubona affidavit. It is a legal requirement that any money to be transferred into or out of the country requires Reserve Bank approval.
“It is unfortunate that AfriForum has decided to repeat baseless allegations against me which I have already demonstrated to be false, 6 months ago. I reserve my rights to take action against AfriForum and any other party who repeats such false allegations.
“I would welcome the South African government assisting the Botswanan government with its request for mutual assistance. These allegations are harmful to my reputation and to all the other citizens that have been referenced in the affidavit.”
(Compiled by Carina Koen)