UK firm rubbishes graft claims against Botswana ex-leader
Allegations of money laundering and attempts to destabilise Botswana made against ex-president Ian Khama are baseless, a British law firm said on Wednesday.
llegations of money laundering and attempts to destabilise Botswana made against ex-president Ian Khama are baseless, a British law firm said on Wednesday.
Khama, who ruled Botswana for 10 years from 2008, is accused alongside two others — a former intelligence chief and a South African businesswoman — of laundering more than $10 billion in public funds.
The money was intended to fund opposition political parties and stoke political unrest in the southern African country, according to Botswana prosecutors.
Khama fell out with his handpicked successor Mokgweetsi Masisi who he accused of authoritarianism in the run up to the 2019 elections.
“The results of our investigations are clear and conclusive: there is no evidence to support any of the allegations against President Khama,” said Cherie Blair of the Britain-based international law firm Omnia Strategy.
During a virtual presentation of the findings Blair described the case as a “work of fiction” full of “glaring anomalies”.
She said the case was based on an “affidavit where fake news, spurious allegations, clumsily manufactured evidence and baseless accusations inform a preposterous conspiracy theory”.
Khama’s co-accused, South African businesswoman Bridgette Motsepe, said she commissioned and paid for the probe.
But last year Khama was quoted in Botswana newspaper the Weekend Post as saying he had commissioned the investigation.
Blair she was under instruction to do this report “without fear or favour” and stressed that she would have revealed anything she had found, adding she would not risk her reputation as a lawyer by covering up adverse findings against the accused.
Khama, whose father founded the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) that has ruled since independence from Britain in 1966, is yet to appear in court over the case.
Responding to the report, he bemoaned the “irreparable damage… on our longstanding reputation as stable and a clean democracy”.
“The regime here has engaged in perjury by fabricating a false scenario of money laundering into offshore accounts by name individuals and institutions,” Khama said.
“Our hard-earned reputation of good governance and respect for the rule of law has now been ruined as result of a very clumsy and irresponsible conduct and actions of a regime desperate to try and legitimise itself, tarnish the reputation of those targeted and settle petty political scores.”
He said he would take legal action against the government for defamation and perjury.