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

CityPress - - News - ABRAM MASHEGO abram.mashego@city­press.co.za

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

PHOTO: LERATO MADUNA

UN­DER FIRE Min­is­ter of Fi­nance Pravin Gord­han

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