Lesotho’s Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) is mandated to prevent and to combat corruption. The country has laws, regulations, and penalties to combat corruption of public officials. Parliament passed anticorruption legislation in 1999 that provides criminal penalties for official corruption. The 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. 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. On June 25, 2020, the parliament passed the amendment on Prevention of Corruption and Economic Offences Act of 2006, which will allow the DCEO to investigate money laundering issues beyond national boundaries. This amendment provides the DCEO with the power to work together with similar institutions from other countries in combating corruption.
The Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act of 2008 (amended in 2017) and Public Financial Management and Accountability Act of 2011 serve as additional anti-corruption laws. The Prevention of Corruption and Economic Offences Act (section 14 (1)) and Public Procurement Regulations of 2007 have provisions that address conflicts-of-interest in awarding government procurement contracts. Section 6 (g) (h) (i) of the Prevention of Corruption and Economic Offences Act of 1999 encourages private companies to develop internal controls to prevent corruption. Corruption is most pervasive in government procurement, awarding licenses, and customs fraud.
While the GOL has made significant efforts to implement its laws, many officials continue to engage in corruption with impunity. The DCEO claims it cannot effectively undertake its mission because it lacks adequate resources. The country does not have instruments to protect NGOs investigating corruption. Corruption is pervasive in government procurement, provision of licenses, work permits and residence permits.
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 foreign direct investment 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 10,000 maloti (USD 667) or 10 years imprisonment. Local companies cannot deduct a bribe to a foreign official from taxes.
UN Anticorruption Convention, OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery
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. The country is also a member of the Southern African Development Community Protocol against corruption, the Southern African Forum against corruption, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), and the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG).
Resources to Report Corruption
Contacts at government agency or agencies that are responsible for combating corruption: