After all the scandals of corruption and tender fraud that allegedly happened within the Lesotho Millennium Development Agency in 2019, United States agency Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) this week hosted a training on anti-fraud and corruption for LMDA staff.
The training was led by MCC’s senior director of anti-fraud and corruption Christopher Williams. The training’s major focus was on strengthening LMDA’s existing protections against corruption, and on ensuring that all LMDA staff are ready to fulfill their responsibility to detect, report and prevent corrupt activities.
Williams explained that, because fraud and corruption can happen anywhere, United States requires all its departments and agencies to have a program in place to reduce fraud and corruption. The policy extends to all programs using MCC funds, including the LMDA-led efforts to develop a second MCC compact with Lesotho.
“Fraud and corruption, especially on MCC-funded projects, are not ‘victimless crimes’. In all cases of fraud and corruption on development projects, not only are taxpayer funds misused, but there are fewer benefits flowing to the people,” he indicated.
He further pointed that if funds that would be provided under the second Lesotho compact were to be lost to fraud or corruption, the government of Lesotho would be required to reimburse the US government.
He said not only would the benefits of the project be reduced but Basotho taxpayer funds would be returned to the United States instead of meeting Basotho’s needs.
“This is one of the many reasons why the US government and Lesotho officials take the risks of fraud and corruption seriously. The training being provided to LMDA is a first step in the process of developing and implementing a corruption prevention programme. This is the same kind of programme American companies doing business in other countries require of their firms.
“MCC and LMDA both believe that with proper focus on anti-fraud and corruption, the two agencies can ensure the highest level of effectiveness of US taxpayer resource that may fund the second compact and the highest possible impact for all Basotho,” he explained.
The training comes after the police and the Directorate of Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) investigated corruption claims against employees of the Lesotho Millennium Development Agency (LMDA) and some service providers, in April last year.
The LMDA at the time also suspended two of its senior officers over the alleged corruption. While the LMDA did not specify what the alleged corruption entailed, sources within the agency said that the employees were accused of conniving with some selected companies to overcharge the agency for services rendered to it as it went about its task of maintaining infrastructure that was developed by the MCC.