PRAVIN TO BE CHARGED AGAIN
Finance minister and former Sars officials will face a new set of indictments next month – this time, over Gordhan’s approval of a covert investigation unit
Finance minister Pravin Gordhan is expected to be charged again next month.
And this time, a determined Hawks and National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) team want to make sure they have a strong case against him and his co-accused. The new charges will relate to the establishment of the so-called rogue unit in 2007, when Gordhan was commissioner of the SA Revenue Service (Sars).
Two senior Hawks officials and an NPA executive close to the investigation have told City Press that Gordhan and his former Sars deputy, Ivan Pillay, will be charged “before Christmas”.
“This is not overnight work. There is a lot that we still have to do, but they will be charged before Christmas,” said a senior Hawks official this week.
Another senior Hawks officer said: “The charges laid against them will include fraud, defeating the ends of justice and contravention of the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act.”
City Press has learnt that the Hawks and the NPA are aiming to list Gordhan as “accused number 1” on the charge sheet.
National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams surprised many on October 11, when he announced charges against Gordhan, Pillay and former Sars commissioner Oupa Magashula.
He spent most of that press briefing speaking about the alleged illegal Sars unit – but opted instead to charge the three with fraud and contraventions of the Public Finance Management Act relating to Pillay’s early retirement.
City Press has also established that the Hawks team investigating Sars’ High Risk Investigation Unit, dubbed the rogue unit, has been beefed up with an additional two investigators as it scrambles for further evidence against Gordhan and several other former Sars employees, including former group executive for investigations Johann van Loggerenberg.
The Hawks detectives “recently” approached former deputy finance minister Jabu Moleketi for a statement, and asked him to provide information about the formation of the investigation unit, which he initially opposed.
According to a “secret” information note sent by the Hawks to State Security Minister David Mahlobo on January 20, Moleketi had expressed misgivings about the unit’s establishment in February 2007, when Gordhan approved it and then finance minister Trevor Manuel signed it off.
In the note, it states that Moleketi wrote on Gordhan’s application: “Supported – however, this is a strange way of executing what I consider to be an economic mandate of NIA [the National Intelligence Agency]. It seems as though it is an add-on rather than part of NIA’s mandate.”
Moleketi yesterday confirmed he was approached to provide a statement to the Hawks.
“I was approached and I submitted a statement through my lawyers,” he said.
A senior Hawks officer said the probe into the unit was a “prosecutorial-led investigation”, and the NPA was providing the team with guidance and instructions.
The information note sent to Mahlobo by lead investigating officer Brigadier Nyameka Xaba alleges that Gordhan and Pillay were instrumental in the creation of the rogue unit. Xaba heads up a specialised Hawks unit, which has been set up to probe crimes against the state.
City Press has learnt that the NPA has allocated four prosecutors – all from the Priority Crimes Litigation Unit, which Abrahams used to head – to lead the investigation team.
Abrahams told Parliament during his grilling before the justice portfolio committee on Friday that the investigation into the so-called rogue unit was at an advanced stage, “and we will make sure we do not make the same mistakes here”.
A senior prosecutor, based at the NPA’s headquarters in Silverton in Pretoria, said it was the “first time I have seen four prosecutors being allocated to one case”.
The prosecutor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Hawks detectives Xaba – as well as a Colonel H Maluleka, a Lieutenant Colonel S Palaza and a Captain M Sewele – were “regulars” in Abrahams’ office.
“They always meet in Shaun’s office. Lately, they have been given access cards. They are no longer required to sign the visitors’ registry and are no longer escorted through the building,” the prosecutor said.
NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku said no decision to prosecute Gordhan had yet been taken, adding: “The investigation is still under way.”
This is not overnight work. There is a lot that we still have to do, but they will be charged before Christmas
UNDER FIRE Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan