- Company records seized • Suspected to be linked to elites
- Allegedly has assets and cash offshore
Taxman, Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS) has raided the offices of structural engineering firm, Acute Engineering (Pty)Ltd reportedly over tax compliance issues involving millions of pula, this publication has established.
A week ago, the tax collector pounced on the company’s offices where piles of documentation containing company information were seized. Sources close to the development revealed that the heaps of confiscated documentation may contain evidence of a money trail that could reveal that Acute Engineering has links all the way to elite government officials and politicians who may have been instrumental in the awarding of suspicious multi-million tenders to the company.
According to the sources, Acute Engineering and its directors and financial beneficiaries are also suspected by the taxman and the graft busting agency, Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) to have accumulated assets, money and property which is now stashed outside Botswana, in a quest to hide them from DCEC and BURS.
The company was revealed recently to have benefited from tenders, the awards of which and conditions under which they were given raised eyebrows, raising suspicion that powerful politicians were behind the contracts and that they are benefiting financially. Just a few months back, the Ministry of Local Government, then headed by sacked Minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi cancelled a multi-million Pula tender which the Gaborone City Council (GCC) had awarded to the company for the installation of street lights and maintenance across Gaborone.
After Venson-Moitoi had initially suspended the tender, a commission of inquiry was set up to investigate the matter and it was found that there were several irregularities and circumstances leading up to the awarding of the tender. It was established that Acute Engineering was awarded a contract with duration of 15 years; a previously unheard-of period.
The contract caused unease to a point where legislators questioned the contract.
It also emerged that the value of the money which Acute Engineering would benefit was a cause for alarm, although the sum was never revealed.
At that time, GCC could not properly account for the awarded tender which resulted in its cancellation. The contractor’s capacity to handle the contract of such magnitude was also questioned . The value of the contract was however not revealed, but it merges that part of the payment was already paid into the company’s accounts. There was also unease in the GCC, with other councillors questioning the relations of the directors with other politicians and councillors within the GCC.
Should the taxman and the DCEC find the money trail they are looking for, directors of the company and senior politicians are expected to be charged soon. Efforts to get comment from the company directors were futile at time of press. The company and its directors will be afforded the opportunity to reply to the allegations should they wish to comment.