‘VBS fraud big­ger than loot­ing’

NPA look­ing at rack­e­teer­ing charge

Sowetan - - News - By Thabo Mokone

The Hawks told par­lia­ment’s fi­nance com­mit­tee yes­ter­day that state­ments from at least 65 po­ten­tial wit­nesses had been ob­tained as part of its in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the loot­ing of VBS Mu­tual Bank.

And the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity told MPs that it was con­sid­er­ing rack­e­teer­ing charges against those im­pli­cated in the fi­nan­cial scan­dal that saw the col­lapse of the pro-poor fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tion. Hawks chief ad­vo­cate God­frey Le­beya was part of a team of law en­force­ment agen­cies‚ in­clud­ing the SA Re­serve Bank‚ who pre­sented a progress re­port on their crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the R1.9bn loot­ing spree by bank ex­ec­u­tives and po­lit­i­cally con­nected in­di­vid­u­als. Le­beya said pre­lim­i­nary wit­ness state­ments had been ob­tained from 65 in­di­vid­u­als fa­mil­iar with how “The Great Bank Heist” took place and this did not in­clude any of the 53 politi­cians, ex­ec­u­tives and other as­so­ci­ates im­pli­cated in ad­vo­cate Terry Mo­tau’s re­port. Act­ing NPA head Si­las Ra­maite said at least five se­nior pros­e­cu­tors and top of­fi­cials from the agency’s As­set For­fei­ture Unit were part of the multi-pronged in­ves­ti­ga­tion which also in­cluded the Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Cen­tre. Ra­maite said it was still too early to in­di­cate which in­di­vid­u­als were likely to be prose­cuted but stated the is­sue was “big­ger than fraud and theft”. “There has been a lot of fo­cus on the fraud and the theft that took place but the is­sue is ac­tu­ally much big­ger than that from a prose­cu­tion point of view,” Ra­maite said.

“We have raised this with the prose­cu­tions team and we’re cur­rently dis­cussing it. It’s in fact rack­e­teer­ing at its worst and that is in re­spect of the pre­ven­tion of or­gan­ised crime be­cause it in­volves fraud and theft and it also in­volved reck­less trad­ing which is one of the lesser en­forced crimes in SA. Once the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is com­plete we will then be able to start work­ing on draft charges‚” said Ra­maite. Re­serve Bank deputy gov­er­nor Kuben Naidoo said they had no other choice but to ap­ply for the liq­ui­da­tion of VBS once it be­came in­sol­vent. Naidoo said he was not op­ti­mistic that a huge amount of money would be re­cov­ered once the liq­ui­da­tion process was con­cluded. The Re­serve Bank has ap­proached the high court for the liq­ui­da­tion of VBS and the mat­ter is due to be heard next Tues­day.

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