The so-called “Butterfly” spy case took another turn with the release of a new independent report, in London, pouring cold water on allegations of money laundering to fund terrorism in Botswana. In supporting the report, former Botswana president Ian Khama castigated the people running his country and calling the allegation the “height of stupidity and irresponsibility.”
The “Butterfly” case took its name from the code name of the intelligence officer at the centre of the story that has been the talk of southern Africa for months. It surrounds allegations that 46-year-old Botswana intelligence officer Welheminah Maswabi took part in money laundering of $10 Billion through the Bank of Botswana and string of commercial banks around the world.
The State alleges that the money was to fund unrest and political opposition in Botswana against President Mokgweetsi Masisi– also linking it to South African businesswoman Bridgette Radebe and former President Khama.
“It is unfortunately a day of shame and a sad day for our country. It has damaged our reputation as a clean democracy,” says Khama.
“The regime here has engaged in perjury…Their clear criminal intent has now been exposed our reputation for clean government has been tarnished…This is the height of stupidity and irresponsibility by falsely accusing people… I fully expect them (the Botswana government) to rubbish it (the report), they have been doing so as this press conference was coming and that shows the mentality of the regime.”
CNBC Africa made numerous attempts to contact the president’s office in Gaborone, to no avail.
The State is building a case against Maswabi around charges of money laundering to finance terrorism in Botswana – a country famed in Africa for its peaceful stability. Her lawyer Uyapo Ndadi told CNBC Africa that the case against Maswabi was based on trumped up charges and she was due back in court in November.
The case is being built around an affidavit from Jako Hubona, an investigator with Botswana’s Directorate of Economic Crime and Corruption Unit. He claimed that Khama and Motsepe took part in money laundering through a flow of illicit funds out of government accounts at the Bank of Botswana , via a number international financial institutions, to a variety of South African and offshore accounts.
The new independent investigation released in London, commissioned by Motsepe and conducted by lawyer Cherie Blair, refutes these allegations. It says that the affidavit does not have a shred of evidence and claims it is based on fabrication. Blair, the wife of former British premier Tony Blair, said the allegations against Motsepe – the sister of billionaire Patrice Motsepe- and Khama were baseless.
“For a start 10 billion dollars is about half of Botswana’s GDP and we found no evidence that such money had been transferred at all from the Bank of Botswana at all,” Blair told CNBC Africa.