By Nthakoana Ngatane
BERLIN, Germany – KFW-Ipex Bank, the financial institution that Frazer Solar GmbH says agreed to fund a Lesotho energy project for €100million, says it never made that undertaking and the bank doesn’t have any agreement involving Frazer Solar GmbH.
Frazer has been awarded 850 million maloti (€50million) in damages by an arbitration process in South Africa, after it claimed that it signed an agreement that gave it a contract with Lesotho during the tenure of former prime minister Tom Thabane.
But Berlin says it never approved the €100 million that company, now terrorising Lesotho in South African courts, claims is the basis for its attempted seizure of the kingdom’s assets, and it allegedly hasn’t paid tax in Germany for two years.
Frazer claims that it signed the agreement in 2018 with Lesotho to provide 40 000 solar water-heating systems, 20 megawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity, 1 million LED lights and 350 000 solar lanterns.
The company says the German government agreed to finance the program, but the Lesotho ministry of finance failed to execute the project’s financial arrangement.
Frazer began legal action against the kingdom in 2019 after what it said were a series of contractual breaches.
The company says Lesotho failed to engage in arbitration and didn’t respond to demands, so it scored a default judgment in South Africa, in which it was awarded 850 million rand in damages.
But in Berlin the company doesn’t exist physically or regulatorily. Frazer has a website that features projects in only two countries, Lesotho and ESwatini.
The company says its registered offices in Berlin are at Bruno-Bürgel-Weg 142-144, 12439, but neither the company nor its director Robert Frazer or any representative can be found there.
Its website says Robert Frazer was based in Lesotho for the duration of the development of the project there and participated in weekly aid distributions over the course of 2017 and 2018.
Our next stop was the Bundeszentralamt für Steuern – an authority that administers and collects taxes on behalf of municipalities, federal state and federal government.
Lesotho Express heard allegations that there too Frazer Solar GmbH has not been heard from in two years.
Press liaison Michaela Fritz-Meinus said “due to the German tax secrecy (para. 30 German Fiscal Code), we are not allowed to disclose any information on specific natural persons and/or legal entities.”
Frazer claims that it suffered damages in anticipated revenues and profits after securing funding from KfW IPEX-Bank GmbH.
“Mr Frazer also secured the interests of a German export credit agency, KfW IPEX-Bank GmbH (“KfW”) to fund solar projects which involved the supply and use of KBB s products.” reads the company’s submission for arbitration.
In the papers managing director Robert Frazer says on 5 October 2017 then Lesotho minister in the office of the prime minister Temeki Tsolo wrote to KfW and informed it of a potential development of a €100 million renewable energy project in Lesotho based on Frazer’s proposal and invited KfW to submit an indicative term sheet for the financing of the project.
He says on 20 November 2017 the parties signed an MoU recording their common intention to proceed with the renewable energy project and obtain approval of the Lesotho Government by 1 March 2018.
“The MoU also recorded the sourcing of project financing from KfW of €100 million. It further outlined anticipated roles and responsibilities of the parties, time frames and finalization of a complete project proposal by 31 January 2018. The MoU was signed by Mr Frazer on behalf of the claimant and by Minister Tsolo on behalf of the Lesotho Government.” reads Frazer’s initial submission.
Frazer says it has a letter dated 13 December 2017 from KfW to the finance minister Moeketsi Majoro in which KfW expressed its in principle interests in funding the solar energy project to the tune of €100 million subject to certain conditions specified in that letter.
However Lesotho Express has seen another letter in which KFW-Ipex Bank, the financial institution that Frazer makes these claims about, says it never made that undertaking and the bank doesn’t have any agreement involving Frazer Solar GmbH.
Lesotho Express has asked Frazer lawyers, Peterson Hertog Attorneys based in South Africa to explain where Frazer is registered and tax compliant and to verify the claimed expression of interest by KFW-Ipex bank and we await their reply.
Lesotho has now approached the courts in South Africa to challenge the arbitration decision and set it aside and arguments in that case will be heard in November.
Lesotho Express has been reliably informed that Frazer is planning to file more demands in courts in the USA to seize more assets.