Fraud­ster paid judge

Sunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By JAC­QUES PAUW

Writ­ing ex­clu­sively for the Sun­day Times, Jac­ques Pauw re­veals to­day how fraud­ster Adri­ano Maz­zotti gave R1.3 mil­lion in cash to an act­ing judge and a crim­i­nal at­tor­ney. The Pres­i­dent’s Keep­ers au­thor re­ports that judge Michael Hel­lens ne­go­ti­ated on Maz­zotti’s be­half with SARS. At­tor­ney Ian Small-Smith got R800 000 from Maz­zotti.

A prom­i­nent Jo­han­nes­burg ad­vo­cate and act­ing high court judge took a bag con­tain­ing R500 000 in cash as a “gift” from self-con­fessed to­bacco smug­gler and fraud­ster Adri­ano Maz­zotti.

A top crim­i­nal at­tor­ney who is said to count Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma, his son Duduzane and En­ergy Min­is­ter David Mahlobo among his clients also took R800 000 in cash from Maz­zotti.

It is re­vealed in an af­fi­davit made by Maz­zotti that he gave the money to at­tor­ney Ian Small-Smith to bribe top South African Rev­enue Ser­vice of­fi­cials. In­stead, Small-Smith al­legedly pock­eted the money.

Small-Smith, a con­sul­tant at BDK At­tor­neys in Jo­han­nes­burg, has counted among his clients Mahlobo, for­mer act­ing po­lice com­mis­sioner Kho­motso Phahlane, Mpumalanga pre­mier David Mabuza, Czech fugi­tive and gang­ster Radovan Kre­j­cir and Brett Keb­ble’s killers.

Jo­han­nes­burg ad­vo­cate and act­ing judge Michael Hel­lens SC this week ad­mit­ted to the Sun­day Times that he took the bag of money from Maz­zotti.

The Jo­han­nes­burg Bar Coun­cil found last year that Hel­lens had breached its rules by not ask­ing for per­mis­sion to ac­cept Maz­zotti’s “gift” and rep­ri­manded him.

The Sun­day Times ex­posed Maz­zotti last week as a ma­jor bene­fac­tor of the ANC pres­i­den­tial cam­paign of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma — an al­le­ga­tion he de­nied. He also spon­sored Julius Malema’s EFF, en­abling the party to con­test the 2014 gen­eral elec­tion.

Maz­zotti has emerged as a cen­tral char­ac­ter in The Pres­i­dent’s Keep­ers: Those Who Keep Zuma in Power and out of Prison. Parts of Maz­zotti’s af­fi­davit, which was de­posed in May 2014, are pub­lished in The Pres­i­dent’s Keep­ers. Maz­zotti had de­posed the af­fi­davit to try to set­tle a R600-mil­lion tax bill.

The book refers to a record­ing in which Maz­zotti boasted about his links to Mahlobo. He claimed that the State Se­cu­rity Agency had asked him to spy on Malema.

Maz­zotti dis­closes in the af­fi­davit that his com­pany, Carnil­inx, had ob­tained Hel­lens’s ser­vices to ne­go­ti­ate a dis­pute with the rev­enue ser­vice.

Be­fore the ne­go­ti­a­tions took place, Maz­zotti said he bribed a SARS of­fi­cial for doc­u­ments per­tain­ing to the tax au­thor­ity’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Carnil­inx.

The ne­go­ti­a­tions with SARS were suc­cess­ful, and Maz­zotti said that, as a “show of grat­i­tude”, Carnil­inx had gifted Hel­lens with R500 000 in cash.

The Jo­han­nes­burg Bar Coun­cil charged Hel­lens with un­pro­fes­sional con­duct.

In his ex­pla­na­tion to the Bar, Hel­lens said Carnil­inx gave him the gift to “cel­e­brate the suc­cess­ful out­come” of his rep­re­sen­ta­tion to SARS. He had treated it as a do­na­tion.

Af­ter the ne­go­ti­a­tions with SARS, Maz­zotti cel­e­brated the out­come with his le­gal team at the Houghton Golf Club in Jo­han­nes­burg, said Hel­lens.

“There was much hand­shak­ing and back­slap­ping and con­grat­u­la­tions — as there of­ten is when one has been suc­cess­ful in a case. I had two drinks with them. I [bade] . . . them farewell and left to go home.”

He said when he got to his car, Maz­zotti caught up with Hel­lens. Maz­zotti had a bag in his hand. Hel­lens said Maz­zotti held it out to Hel­lens and said: “Here is your money.”

“I de­clined to ac­cept it. He in­sisted, say­ing how grate­ful they were to me. Af­ter some fur­ther re­mon­stra­tion back and forth, he said: ‘Mike, just open your boot.’ I did so. When I got home, I con­firmed it con­tained R500 000,” said Hel­lens.

“I never asked for it and never agreed to it un­til I even­tu­ally suc­cumbed to the client’s in­sis­tence and ac­cepted it.”

In his af­fi­davit, Maz­zotti said Hel­lens was wrong to ac­cept the gift.

When the Sun­day Times asked Maz­zotti about the pay­ment, he de­nied he had given Hel­lens an un­law­ful gift.

Maz­zotti also de­nied to the Sun­day Times that he had paid Small-Smith R800 000 to bribe top SARS of­fi­cials.

In his af­fi­davit, how­ever, he goes into de­tail about the cash he gave to Small-Smith.

Maz­zotti, who de­scribes Small-Smith as a good friend, said in his af­fi­davit that Carnil­inx re­tained Small-Smith be­cause of his “per­ceived connections” at SARS.

“In our deal­ings with Small-Smith, the lat­ter per­sis­tently re­ferred to his con­tacts at SARS, and in par­tic­u­lar men­tioned Jo­hann van Log­geren­berg and Ivan Pil­lay.”

Pil­lay was act­ing SARS com­mis­sioner at the time and Van Log­geren­berg the in­ves­ti­ga­tions head. It was, among oth­ers, the tax col­lec­tor’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion unit that nailed Maz­zotti and Carnil­inx for tax eva­sion and money laun­der­ing.

“We made this large pay­ment to him on the ba­sis of a per­cep­tion, on our part, that he was us­ing part of these monies to pay off SARS of­fi­cials, in par­tic­u­lar Van Log­geren­berg,” Maz­zotti said in the af­fi­davit.

But Maz­zotti con­cedes they were “mis­led” into be­liev­ing that Small-Smith could in­flu­ence the two SARS of­fi­cials.

The Sun­day Times has es­tab­lished that Hel­lens and Small-Smith paid do­na­tions tax on Maz­zotti’s “gifts”.

SARS, which in­ves­ti­gated the two lawyers, dis­cov­ered fur­ther undis­closed amounts of cash that were paid into Smal­lSmith’s ac­count. The rev­enue ser­vice con­cluded that the amounts came from the po­lice crime in­tel­li­gence unit and the SSA.

Small-Smith later apol­o­gised to Van Log­geren­berg and said that Carnil­inx, Maz­zotti and other di­rec­tors “were led to be­lieve by my rep­re­sen­ta­tions . . . that I had in­flu­ence over Jo­hann or any other of­fi­cial at SARS, this was wrong”.

Small-Smith de­nied this week that Carnil­inx had given him money to bribe SARS of­fi­cials. He said there was “noth­ing wrong with cash pay­ments”, as long as they were de­clared. He also said Carnil­inx was wrong to as­sume that he had any in­flu­ence over Pil­lay or Van Log­geren­berg.

His in­ter­ac­tions with po­lice crime in­tel­li­gence and the SSA were pro­fes­sional.

It is un­der­stood that Small-Smith has been con­sult­ing with Zuma on crim­i­nal mat­ters. The Pres­i­dency did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

He said: ‘Mike, just open your boot’. I did so. When I got home, I con­firmed it con­tained R500 000 Michael Hel­lens Ad­vo­cate and act­ing judge

Michael Hel­lens, left, and Ian Small-Smith al­legedly took large sums of cash from Adri­ano Maz­zotti.

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