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Avani’s P6 million ‘ghost’

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*Hotel accused of deliberately overcharging govt by P3 million

Avani Hotel’s management has been accused of doctoring a bill and deliberately overcharging the government by an extra P3 million.

The allegations follow the extended stay of a number of Members of Parliament at the upmarket hotel late last year.

Information gathered by The Voice is that the MPs – around 44 in total – lodged at Avani during alternate periods between 31 October and 21 December.

Avani then charged government P6, 217, 751. 25 for the MPs combined stay – a bill that an insider at the hotel insists is more than double what was actually owed.

According to the source, Avani made up fake dates claiming a second prolonged stay for MPs at the hotel – a stay the source maintains never happened.

“Instead of returning the P3 million balance, Avani’s management instructed the Accounts Department to create ‘ghost’ dates to make it look legit that the rooms were still used by MPs in order to defraud the government and get the remaining balance,” claimed the source.

The ‘ghost dates’ were created for 12 March until 1 April 2020.

Unlike the first part of the 203-page invoice seen by The Voice, in which each entry clearly identifies the MP being charged, the ‘ghost dates’ make no mention of which MPs were staying at the hotel. Instead, the 12 March – 1 April part of the invoice is referenced primarily as the ‘Ministry of Presidential Affairs’.

When first contacted on the allegations on 23 September, Avani General Manager, Allan Clingham asked for the document plus a questionnaire – a request to which The Voice duly obliged.

However, despite numerous follow-ups, the Manager did not respond to our calls.

The Voice later learned that a number of staff members were on suspension pending investigations on who leaked the invoice.

Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Governance and Public Administration, Thato Raphaka referred the matter to Parliament.

“I have looked at this matter and found out that, although it is written to our Ministry, Avani had actually appropriately submitted it for settling by Parliament.”

Continuous efforts to get a comment from Parliament failed despite having acknowledged receiving our questionnaire. The Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime, Lentswe Motshoganetsi said that the issue was new to them.

“We haven’t received any report in relation to that but having received the document we will look at it to find if there was fraud,” he said.

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