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CMB application dismissed with costs

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State Counsel Matlhogonolo Phuthego and DCEC officers
State Counsel Matlhogonolo Phuthego and DCEC officers

It was a bad day in court for former Gaborone United chairman Rapula Okaile and his wife Neo Okaile on Friday as they faced off with the DCEC.

The couple and their businesses, Warentebo Investment and Capital Management Botswana, saw their legal request for the return of their impounded cars dismissed with costs by Justice Omphemetse Motumise.

The four applicants had filed an urgent application against the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) for impounding eight of their cars in March on suspicion they were bought from criminal proceeds.

They further appealed for an order reviewing and setting aside the decision to seize the vehicles, arguing that such action was ‘unlawful, unconstitutional and unprocedural’.

Okaile and CMB are involved in a case before court with NBFIRA (Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority) over P400 million in assets drawn from the Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF).

The DCEC seized the cars during the course of this case investigation.

Representing the DCEC, State Counsel, Matlhogonolo Phuthego told court they had confiscated the cars because they suspected the vehicles were bought through the proceeds of crime.

He stressed it was important that they impounded the vehicles to ensure they remain in good condition as investigations could potentially drag on for years.

For his part, Okaile stated that during the investigations he demanded a warrant, court order or other documents authorising the seizure of the vehicles but the DCEC officers told him it was not necessary.

Delivering the ruling, Judge Motumise said, “On the other hand is the risk to the investigation and any attendant prosecution if the vehicles are released and the risk to the applicants if the vehicles remain impounded pending investigations or a prosecution.

“If the vehicles are released before the conclusion of investigations this could constitute a severe if not a fatal blow to the investigations. I find that the applicants have failed to meet the requirements of urgency,” he ruled, before ordering punitive costs against the Okailes, adding that the application should be dismissed with costs on attorney and client scale.

The matter shall come up for status hearing on the 29th of May.