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9. Corruption

Lesotho has laws, regulations, and penalties to combat corruption of public officials. Parliament passed anti-corruption legislation in 1999 that provides criminal penalties for official corruption. The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offenses (DCEO) is the primary anticorruption organ and investigates corruption complaints against public sector officials. The Amendment of Prevention of Corruption and Economic Offences Act of 2006 enacted the first financial disclosure laws for public officials. On February 5, 2016, the government issued regulations to initiate implementation of the financial disclosure laws for public officials who must file their declarations annually by April 30, 2016. The law may also be applied to private citizens if deemed necessary by the DCEO. The law prohibits direct or indirect bribery of public officials, including payments to family members of officials and political parties. While the government made significant efforts to implement the law, some officials have engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. The DCEO has claimed it cannot effectively implement the law because it lacks adequate resources. Corruption is pervasive in government procurement.

In 2013, the DCEO indicted both a sitting minister and a former minister for separate incidents of corruption. A court case regarding a sitting Minister (since resigned) was recently dismissed due to a missing police docket while the other case has not yet had a final resolution. In an effort to prevent corruption and economic offences, the DCEO encourages companies to establish internal codes of conduct that, among other things, prohibit bribery of public officials. Many companies have effective internal controls, ethics, and programs to detect and prevent bribery.

No U.S. firms have identified corruption as an obstacle to FDI in Lesotho. Giving or accepting a bribe is a criminal act under the Prevention of Corruption and Economic Offences Act of 2006, the penalty for which is a minimum of LSL10,000 ($667) or 10 years imprisonment. Local companies cannot deduct a bribe to a foreign official from taxes. Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perception Index ranked Lesotho 83rd of 176 countries globally.

Lesotho acceded to the UN Anticorruption Convention in 2005, but it is not yet a signatory to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery. Lesotho acceded to the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption in 2003. Lesotho is also a member of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), and the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG).

Resources to Report Corruption

Contact at government agency responsible for combating corruption:
Sefako Seema
Prosecutor, Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offenses
P.O. Box 16060, Maseru, 100 Lesotho
+266 2231-3713

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