The Voice (Botswana) - - FRONT PAGE - BY DANIEL CHIDA

AVANI Ho­tel’s man­age­ment have been ac­cused of doc­tor­ing a bill and de­lib­er­ately over­charg­ing gov­ern­ment by an ex­tra P3 mil­lion.

The al­le­ga­tions fol­low the ex­tended stay of a num­ber of Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment at the up­mar­ket ho­tel late last year.

In­for­ma­tion gath­ered by The Voice is that the MPS - around 44 in to­tal - lodged at Avani dur­ing al­ter­nate pe­ri­ods be­tween 31 Oc­to­ber and 21 De­cem­ber.

Avani then charged gov­ern­ment P6,217,751.25 for the MPS com­bined stay - a bill that an in­sider at the ho­tel in­sists is more than dou­ble what was ac­tu­ally owed.

Ac­cord­ing to the source, Avani made up fake dates claim­ing a sec­ond pro­longed stay for MPS at the ho­tel - a stay the source main­tains never hap­pened.

“In­stead of re­turn­ing the P3 mil­lion bal­ance, Avani’s man­age­ment in­structed the Ac­counts De­part­ment to cre­ate ‘ghost’ dates to make it look le­git that the rooms were still used by MPS in or­der to de­fraud gov­ern­ment and get the re­main­ing bal­ance,” claimed the source.

The ‘ghost dates’ were cre­ated for 12 March un­til 1 April 2020.

Un­like the first part of the 203page in­voice seen by The Voice, in which each en­try clearly iden­ti­fies the MP be­ing charged, the ‘ghost dates’ make no men­tion of which MPS were stay­ing at the ho­tel. In­stead, the 12 March - 1 April part of the in­voice is ref­er­enced pri­mar­ily as ‘Min­istry of Pres­i­den­tial Af­fairs’.

When first con­tacted on the al­le­ga­tions on 23 Septem­ber, Avani Gen­eral Man­ager, Al­lan Cling­ham, asked for the doc­u­ment plus a ques­tion­naire - a re­quest to which The Voice duly obliged.

How­ever, de­spite nu­mer­ous fol­low-ups, the man­ager did not re­spond to our calls.

The Voice later learnt that a num­ber of staff mem­bers were on sus­pen­sion pend­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions on who leaked the in­voice.

Mean­while, the Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary in the Min­istry of Pres­i­den­tial Af­fairs, Gov­er­nance and Pub­lic Ad­min­is­tra­tion, Thato Raphaka, re­ferred the mat­ter to Par­lia­ment.

“I have looked at this mat­ter and found out that al­though it is writ­ten to our Min­istry, Avani had ac­tu­ally ap­pro­pri­ately sub­mit­ted it for set­tling by Par­lia­ment.”

Con­tin­u­ous ef­forts to get a com­ment from Par­lia­ment failed de­spite hav­ing ac­knowl­edged re­ceiv­ing our ques­tion­naire. The Direc­torate on Cor­rup­tion and Eco­nomic Crime spokesper­son, Lentswe Mot­shoganetsi, said that the is­sue was new to them. “We haven’t re­ceived any re­port in re­la­tion to that but, hav­ing re­ceived the doc­u­ment, we will look at it to find if there was fraud,” he said.


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