By APLINGDA SARHADANAUNTUKLUNG, Lesothos, Sept. 20 (UPI) A tour operator for Lesothology International in Lesothon is accused of using his company to buy a luxury hotel in the country’s southernmost region and then charging the owners a $10,000 bribe to stay at the hotel.
The company’s managing director, Mladen Aparas, was arrested on Monday on charges of fraud and money laundering after the indictment was handed down by a judge.
Aparas is also accused of violating an agreement by Lesothological International to rent the property at a low rate, which the company had agreed to do before he took the job, the court said.
He was released on bail but has been ordered to appear in court on September 21.
The hotel owner could face up to five years in prison if convicted.
A PARAS TOUR, a company owned by Lesoths’ Lesotholite Tour Operations (LTP), has been accused of breaking rules by using a $1 million hotel for a tour company and then selling it at a high price.LTP, based in Johannesburg, is the leading operator of tours in the Lesothonic region, and owns the Mokoma National Park.
The LTP said it has no record of the tour company, which it said is registered in another jurisdiction.
The charge comes as Lesothologists around the world are looking to build a tourist infrastructure in Africa and Asia, and some have criticized tour operators who offer services at prices much higher than those that tourists would pay to visit the region.
Lesotholites, a region of the continent that borders Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, have become a target of tourists who are looking for a place to spend their holidays, particularly after the region’s Ebola outbreak last year, when tourists from Europe and the United States flocked to the country.
The region is home to some of Africa’s most famous volcanoes, which can be deadly.
Lesothols tourism revenue has also suffered as people have fled from the region to other countries.