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DCEO probes fraud at popular micro-lender

Lesotho Times

Lesotho's widely read newspaper, published every Thursday and distributed throughout the country and in some parts of South Africa. Contact us today: News: [email protected] Advertising: [email protected] Telephone: +266 2231 5356

— as managing director is accused of stealing millions
—prejudicing a M280 million investment and 200 jobs

Mohalenyane Phakela / Moorosi Tsiane
THE Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) has frozen the
accounts of one of the country’s largest micro finance companies – Platinum
Credit – as it begins a major probe into alleged multi-million maloti theft and
fraud by the firm’s managing director, Motena Lishea.
Ms Lishea stands accused of defrauding a major international investor,
Platcorp, who had poured about M280 million into the micro-lending
company after she was entrusted with temporarily running Platinum Credit on
the investor’s behalf.
The DCEO had thus successfully obtained search and seizure warrants which
they used to freeze Platinum Credit’s accounts held at Standard Lesotho Bank
and Post Bank as part of the fraud and theft probes.
Because of the problems at the popular micro lender and Ms Lishea’s alleged
fraud and theft, three directors at the company Nthati Khutlisi, Lindiwe
Adontsi, Matseliso Petrus and the company secretary, Advocate Khati Mahase,
had quit. They have all since deposed affidavits accusing Ms Lishea of
essentially running down the company for her benefit but to the prejudice of
its employees and the thousands of Basotho it benefited. One of the founding
senior executives of the company, Teboho Manthanyane-Rampa, also quit last
Ms Lishea is now in a spirited battle against the DCEO to stop it from probing
her and to unfreeze the company’s accounts. Several legal battles are now
being fought between Ms Lishea and Platcorp, the international investor into
Platinum Creditor.
Platcorp’s M280 million investment had helped Platinum Credit grow into the
country’s third largest micro lender after Letshego and Lesana within a short
space of time. The company had big plans to invest another M1 billion
creating, hundreds of jobs in the process. All that investment faces peril unless
all relevant authorities like the Central Bank of Lesotho and the Financial

Intelligence Unit (FIU) move fast to untangle the skullduggery surrounding the
Platinum Credit issue and ensure the safety of the envisaged investment.
The Beginning
The wrangle between the controversial Ms Lishea and Platcorp is being fought
in the courts since June 2022. According to the court papers, it all began when
Platcorp decided to invest in Lesotho around 2020 at the height of the Covid-
19 pandemic. Ms Lishea had before then started her small micro lender called
Wazzah Limited which did not have resources to operate but had nonetheless
obtained the much sought after operational licence for micro lending from the
Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL).
Platcorp subsequently bought into Wazzah as an easier way of accessing the
micro lending licence. The company was then renamed Platinum Credit in May
A share purchase agreement was entered into between Ms Lishea and Platcorp
on 1 June 2020 in terms of which the latter purchased all the issued shares of
Wazzah. Ms Lishea had then controlled 95 percent of Wazzah with
Nthabiseng Nthako owning the remaining five percent. The agreement was
nonetheless not immediately consummated. The Covid -19 pandemic had
severely constricted cross border movements and Platcorp representatives
could not visit Lesotho to complete the deal.
But Platcorp nonetheless begun investing in Platinum Credit with a view of
completing the changeover of ownership once the Covid pandemic had
receded and international travel resumed. The CBL also had to give approval
for the share transfer agreement between Platcorp and Ms Lishea in line with
the law. Even though the owners of Platcorp had expected the approval to be
granted expeditiously once conditions returned to normal, that did not
happen. Ms Lishea had also reported that the CBL was delaying in granting
approvals because of the impact of Covid-19 on the bank’s operations. Most
bank staff were mostly operating from home resulting in slow progress in
transaction approvals.
Platcorp in good faith had started releasing its investments to kickstart
Platinum Credit. It initially released US$2 million (about $40 million maloti at
today’s exchange rate). More investments were released in batches to a total
of M280 million, enabling Platinum Credit to grow rapidly to become one of

Lesotho’s top three micro lenders. The details of the total investment are
clearly tabulated in court documents.
Good Faith
Platcorp had continued pouring money into Platinum Credit in good faith. It
hadn’t anticipated that Ms Lishea would eventually refuse to consummate the
share transfer deal that both parties had signed. Covid-19 had also created a
good business case for Platcorp as many people wanted to borrow money to
cushion themselves from the effects of the pandemic.
Ms Lishea had also appeared to be acting in good faith. As the director, she
had all authority to transact on behalf of the company. She had given Platcorp
the delegated authority to administer and take joint control of Platinum
Credit’s daily operations until such a time that Platcorp took full control of the
company and its humungous investment.
Joint control of the operations of the company between Ms Lishea and
Platcorp was largely facilitated via the latter’s Mambu financial software
system and the joint powers at the banks.
The Mambu software is the intellectual property of PlatCorp. It enabled the
company’s representatives to generally oversee the business from their base in
Kenya. From there, they exercised oversight of the banking accounts of
Platinum Credit and were able to approve payments originated by Ms Lishea
and her team in Lesotho.
Everything appeared to work seamlessly and efficiently for more than two
years enabling Platinum Credit to grow rapidly and hire about 200 new recruits
into Lesotho’s financial services sector. That was of course until the fallout
between Ms Lishea and Platcorp which led her, and what the latter describes
as her “rogue board of directors”, to revoke Platcorp’s rights to these
accounts on 15 June 2022, kickstarting the looting frenzy that had forced the
DCEO to intervene and probe Ms Lishea for theft and fraud.
Pending the assumption of full ownership of Platinum Credit by Platcorp, Ms
Lishea had remained a director and acting managing director of the company.
But the fallout seems to have begun when Platcorp started processes to recruit
its own MD to take over from Ms Leshia. The prospect of suddenly losing
control of the millions that had been poured into the business appeared to
have suddenly spooked her. Disowning and repudiating the share sale and
transfer agreement she had willingly entered into with Platcorp and retaining
all the wealth invested into the company for herself appeared to have become

a very tempting option for her. She has since been pursuing that option with
vigour, notwithstanding the several setbacks she has suffered in the courts and
with the respected commercial bank, First National Bank Lesotho, which
branded her “an undesirable customer” after deciding to close the company’s
bank accounts over suspected fraud.
“Undesirable Customer”
First National Bank (FNB) Lesotho, which operated four Platinum Credit
accounts, shut down all these accounts when Ms Lishea started making
suspicious payments to herself and her directors and failed to comply with the
bank’s KYC (Know Your Client) requirements when she was asked to explain
these dubious payments. The payments included M9 million worth of multiple
payments to Ms Lishea and her directors which she ominously presented as a
“golden parachute” transaction. There was essentially no justification for the
huge payment.
The multiple payments were made in batches of M95 000 each to keep within
the limit of payments of M100 000 which automatically gets flagged in the
bank system. That means she would have loaded more than 90 small amounts
to reach the figure of M9 million.
FNBL shut down Platinum Credit’s accounts after Ms Lishea failed to explain
these payments. The bank had flagged them in terms of the KYC rule. They had
also been reported to the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU). Platcorp’s lawyers,
Webber Newdigate, had also gone to court and successfully interdicted the
FNBL then branded Ms Lishea an “undesirable customer”.
After the closure of the FNBL accounts in October 2022, millions were moved
to Platinum Credit’s account at Standard Bank. The company also operated
accounts at Lesotho Post Bank and Nedbank. Even though Platcorp had had
transactional rights to all the accounts before these rights were revoked by Ms
Lishea, it hadn’t had such rights regarding the company’s LPB account. This
because the LPB does not send One Time Pins to international numbers. So
Platcorp’s representatives could not monitor the account from their foreign
head office.
Aware of this fact, Ms Lishea had allegedly started writing to Platinum Credit’s
clients and customers directing them to pay their obligations to the company
into the LPB account. This she did again without authority from the owners of
the money, Platcorp. It was also in violation of a court order that Platcorp had

already obtained ordering her to desist from dissipating the company’s asssets
without authority.
Still, she managed to get more than M20 million deposited into the LPB
account in this way – according to the bank statements attached to the court
papers. Ms Lishea now stands accused of stealing a significant portion of the
money in the LPB account regardless of the court order for her to avoid
dissipating the funds in that LPB account.
Search and Seizure
Ms Lishea had “stolen” large amounts from Platinum Credit’s LPB account,
forcing, Platcorp to report the matter to the DCEO.
The DCEO subsequently obtained search and seizure warrants from Maseru
magistrate Thabang Tapole on 31 May 2023, empowering it to freeze the
Platinum Credit accounts at LPB and Standard Lesotho Bank.
Ms Lishea in turn rushed to the High Court on June 16 2022 alleging that the
freezing of the accounts had rendered it impossible for her to continue running
Platinum Credit, forcing her to lay off around 200 employees. The company’s
workers had nonetheless started resigning when the battle for the control of
the company began. Many had quit in protest at her abrasive management
style and suspected fraudulent activities, according to testimonies attached to
court papers.
Ms Lishea also claimed the freezing of the accounts would make it impossible
for her to pay other obligations of the business. This all means she now claims
ownership of Platcorp’s investments into Platinum Credit as all hers despite
that she did not invest a dime into the business other than the shelf company,
Wazzah, she created and sold to Platcorp to facilitate its entry into the Lesotho
The DCEO director general, Advocate Knox Mollele, is fiercely opposing Ms
Lishea’s application against the search and seizure warrants. He alleges that
Ms Lishea has in fact been stealing left, right and centre from the rightful
owners of Platinum Credit, Platcorp. Her failure to join Platcorp into her
application – despite its clear interests in the matter – was a dubious move
meant to conceal her fraudulent acts.
This was therefore a criminal case that the DCEO was empowered to probe.
The accounts should remain frozen until the DCEO had completed its
investigations, Adv Molelle states.
He insists that the DCEO’s preliminary investigations had uncovered fraud and
theft of Platcorp’s funds by Ms Lishea.

The three former directors of the company had furnished affidavits explaining
how Ms Lishea had been ‘looting’ the company. For instance, Lindiwe Adontśi,
the former director and internal auditor had described in her affidavit how Ms
Lishea had helped herself to M500 000 into her own personal bank account
from company funds, Adv Molelle states.
Adv Molelle also makes examples of other unauthorised transactions such as
the purchase of a “company car” worth M511 997 on 28 April 2023, a
donation of M100 000 on 11 May 2023 and a “so-called CEO Loan” of M500
000 among others. These were all unauthorised and there is suspicion that
many payments cited as donations went back to Ms Lishea. Ms Lishea had
further withdrawn amounts totalling M350 000 which lacked reference,
according to the court documents.
Sweetheart Payment
The court papers show a payment of M1 million Ms Lishea made to her
lawyer, Advocate Tsenase Tsenase, who has since turned into her romantic
partner. The two had even gone on a romantic holiday in Ballito, South Africa,
allegedly using their loot from Platcorp, after the DCEO had obtained the
search and seizure warrants, effectively showing the anti-graft body the
middle finger. Ms Lishea is known to boast that she has influence over key
institutions and can sway them to her side. However, Adv Molelle appears
determined to hold her accountable.
The bank statements – which form part of the record – show payments or
withdrawals of large amounts of cash ranging from M50 000 to M100 000 on
several occasions in transactions not related to the business of Platinum Credit.
“….Motena (Ms Lishea) is the sole holder of the first applicant’s banking
passwords and receives the online transmission pin on her cell phone. Motena
is the only person within Platinum Credit who has the signatory rights to the
banking accounts of Platinum Credit…….One can only infer the unlawful
dissipation of the first applicant’s (Platinum Credit’s) funds,” Adv Molelle states
in his opposing affidavit.
The DCEO’s investigator, Lerato Pebane, states in her court papers that Ms
Lishea had committed fraud and theft on a grand scale.

“On 26 January 2023, the DCEO received a complaint of theft,
fraud….committed by Motena (Lishea) against Platinum Credit Ltd. Preliminary
investigations revealed that on or about June 2022, Motena unlawfully
removed and deprived Platcorp Holdings (Pty) Ltd access to Platinum Credit Ltd
bank accounts and she remained the sole signatory to the bank accounts,” part
of Ms Pebane’s application reads. Ms Leshia had then begun her looting of the
accounts until the DCEO acquired the freezing order on the accounts.
Ms Lishea begs to differ and instead portrays herself as the victim. She says all
the DCEO’s actions against her and Platinum Credit are unlawful. The matter is
back in Court on 10 July 2023. She wants the High Court to unfreeze the
accounts and allow her access to the money in Platinum Credit’s accounts
despite all the evidence put before court that she has been pilfering the
accounts and a reputable bank has effectively branded her a dishonest
In its letter dated 26 September 2022, FNB Lesotho tells Ms Lishea: “First
National Bank Lesotho (FNBL) has, during its internal screening processes
confirmed that you meet the internal ‘undesirable customer’ criteria. After
careful consideration of this, we have therefore decided to exercise our
contractual right to terminate our relationship with you based on the bank’s
desirability factors. As a result, we have decided to close the following bank
accounts you have with us…..” The bank then proceeds to list the accounts
which it closed on 4 November 2022.
In her High Court application, Ms Lishea lists Ms Pebane, the Director Deneral-
DCEO Knorx Molelle, the DCEO, Magistrate Tapole, Attorney General Rapelang
Motsieloa, Standard Lesotho Bank and Lesotho Post Bank as first to seventh
respondents respectively. She does not include FNBL. That’s presumably
because no funds of Platinum Credit are still held at FNBL anymore after they
were moved to Standard Bank.
Platinum Credit’s board chairperson, Mpho Monyane, who is considered a
lapdog of Ms Lishea, accuses the DCEO in his founding affidavit of fighting
Platcorp’s battles and “lying” to the court in the process.

Mr Monyane states that the the alleged unlawfulness of the “golden
parachute” scheme under which Ms Lishea had tried to pay more than M9
million to directors and, that “the DCEO relies on” was still a pending case
between Platinum Credit and Platcorp in the High Court.
“… Had he (Magistrate Tapole) applied his mind to the matter, he would have
seen that the request for the warrant was intended to solicit assistance in
favour of Platcorp against the first applicant in respect of a matter which is sub
judice (pending) in the court of law,” Mr Monyane argues.
“Platinum Credit Ltd as a statutory persona, has its Board of Directors and
shareholders who are not aware of the alleged theft and no facts have been
alleged in the affidavit in support of the warrant to substantiate the allegation
of theft of the said M1.6 million (by Ms Lishea). The warrant therefore lacks
intelligibility and its vague and prejudicial. It is to that extend vitiated. The
learned magistrate clearly failed to apply his mind to the requisites for the
issuance of a valid warrant and acted without legal basis.”
Mr Monyane continues: “Platcorp Holdings Ltd has filed a case under
CCT/0397/2022 wherein, inter alia, it claims huge amounts allegedly owed, as
loans, to it by Platinum Credit Ltd. The said case is still pending before Court.
Despite this public knowledge, the first respondent (Pebane), under oath,
states as a fact that the accused stole M1.6 million partly belonging to Platcorp
Holdings (Pty) Ltd. Not only misleading the fourth respondent (Magistrate
Tapole) but making determinations on issues pending before Court.
“Platinum Credit Ltd does not hold any bank accounts jointly with Platcorp
Holdings (Pty) Ltd as the first respondent made the Court to believe.”
M1 billion more
Ms Pebane is further accused of having deceived Magistrate Tapole that Ms
Lishea and Nthako sold their shares to Platcorp. That litigation over ownership
is also still pending before the High Court, Mr Monyane claims. The statement
is confirmation that Ms Lishea has in fact repudiated her share sale
arrangement with Platcorp and wants to keep the latter’s investments for
“The said share purchase agreement was not approved by the central bank as
required by the Financial Institutions Act and to that extend was not lawful. It

  • is not a binding agreement because the pre-conditions for its validity have not
    been met,” declares Mr Monyane.
    Mr Monyane rejects allegations that Ms Lishea had used Platinum Credit’s
    accounts as her piggy banks.
    “The first respondent (DCEO), states on oath, that Motena being the Managing
    Director of Platinum Credit, has access and signatory rights to Platinum Credit
    bank accounts with one Flip Fourie, who is a Platcorp Holdings representative
    in Platinum Credit. Indeed, the accused (Lishea) has signatory rights to
    Platinum Credit Ltd bestowed upon her by a resolution of the Board of
    Directors. This, however, does not imply that she has freewill to do as she
    pleases in the bank accounts. Firstly, in terms of the Financial Institutions Act,
    she is managed by the Board of Directors, headed by me. Secondly, she has a
    finance department headed by the Finance Manager with the necessary
    financial controls to ensure that all is done properly in relation to the
    It was therefore not accurate that Ms Lishea had stolen from the company, Mr
    Monyane insists.
    Platinum Credit’s woes are a drawback to efforts to foster financial inclusion
    for all Basotho. The company had opened branches across Lesotho and had
    grown rapidly to be among the top three micro finance institutions in the
    country; thanks to the investments from Platcorp which had planned to pour
    M1 billion more into Lesotho. Platcorp still wants to salvage its investment and
    continue business in Lesotho if authorities can assist it overcome the
    bottlenecks erected in its path by someone it had trusted as a partner.
  • To be continued next week