For­mer pres­i­dent Zuma and his Nkandla ‘home loan’ now the fo­cus of a po­lice probe

Sunday Times - - Front Page - By CAIPHUS KGOSANA, RANJENI MUNUSAMY and ZINGISA MVUMVU

For­mer pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma started re­pay­ing his R7.8m VBS Mu­tual Bank loan to pay for his Nkandla home­stead only af­ter the bank was put un­der cu­ra­tor­ship in March this year — 18 months af­ter the loan was granted.

A spe­cial team com­pris­ing Hawks in­ves­ti­ga­tors and se­nior prose­cu­tors from the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Au­thor­ity (NPA) has now been tasked with look­ing into who ser­viced Zuma’s loan since Septem­ber 2016, when it was granted.

It will look at whether for­mer ex­ec­u­tives of VBS cre­ated fic­ti­tious de­posit en­tries against Zuma’s ac­count to make it seem as if it was be­ing ser­viced monthly.

The team will also be ex­am­in­ing sus­pected money-laun­der­ing, cor­rup­tion and fraud at the bank.

The team started its joint in­ves­ti­ga­tion last week, but the Sun­day Times has learnt that ar­rests could have been ef­fected two months ago had the NPA acted on a com­plaint from the Re­serve Bank.

This week a sen­sa­tional re­port by ad­vo­cate Terry Mo­tau SC ti­tled “The Great Bank Heist” de­tailed the R1.8bn loot­ing spree that led to the dra­matic col­lapse of the bank and the loss of al­most R2bn de­posited by some of Lim­popo’s poor­est mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

It re­veals how VBS Mu­tual Bank and Vele In­vest­ments chair Tshifhiwa Ma­todzi got R325m, Vele In­vest­ments CEO Robert Mad­zonga R30.3m, bank trea­surer Phophi Mukhodob­wane R30.5m and bank CEO Andile Ra­mavhunga R28.9m.

Hawks and NPA spokesper­sons Hang­wani Mu­laudzi and Lu­vuyo Mfaku con­firmed that the elite crime-fight­ing unit and the NPA had formed the joint team.

“The main com­plainant, the Re­serve Bank, has opened a case and we are go­ing to be work­ing from that. They have all the in­for­ma­tion now … we are look­ing at mon­ey­laun­der­ing, cor­rup­tion, fraud and all other re­lated is­sues,” Mu­laudzi said.

In­ves­ti­ga­tions started six months ago based on a pre­lim­i­nary re­port they ob­tained from the Bank. Now that a fi­nal re­port is out, it is only a mat­ter of time be­fore ar­rests are made, he said.

“We have al­ready iden­ti­fied sus­pects and the en­ti­ties. We now have to so­lid­ify what we al­ready have,” he said.

Mfaku con­firmed that a team of five Spe­cialised Com­mer­cial Crime Unit (SCCU) prose­cu­tors is work­ing with the Hawks.

He said the team of prose­cu­tors was ap­pointed last week af­ter re­ceiv­ing Mo­tau’s fi­nal re­port and be­gan work­ing with the Hawks to in­ves­ti­gate il­le­gal pay­ments to 53 re­cip­i­ents.

The Sun­day Times has es­tab­lished that Zuma signed his loan agree­ment only nine months af­ter the money was granted by the doomed bank.

The un­usual agree­ment is one of the ques­tions Zuma and oth­ers will have to re­spond to when the Hawks seek an­swers about how the loan was granted, whether it was done in ac­cor­dance with the law and who ser­viced the loan prior to Zuma, and for what rea­son.

VBS came into the spot­light in 2016 when it granted Zuma a R7.8m loan to re­pay the por­tion of the R246m in tax­pay­ers’ money spent on his Nkandla home­stead that for­mer pub­lic pro­tec­tor Thuli Man­don­sela deemed as lux­ury, non-se­cu­rity fea­tures.

The Sun­day Times has es­tab­lished from those close to the VBS in­ves­ti­ga­tion that Zuma started mak­ing re­pay­ments, of about R70,000 a month and deb­ited to his Absa ac­count, only from March, when the bank went into cu­ra­tor­ship.

“The pay­ment pro­file changed in March [2018] to re­flect Zuma as the per­son de­posit­ing the money. What we are un­able to see is who was mak­ing pay­ments be­fore then,” said a source close to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Zuma’s spokesper­son Vuk­ile Matha­bela did not re­spond to ques­tions about the loan.

VBS cu­ra­tor Anoosh Rooplal re­fused to re­spond to ques­tions about Zuma’s loan, say­ing it was sub­ject to client priv­i­lege.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa yes­ter­day called for fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Zuma and VBS’s top man­age­ment.

“If he started to pay the loan in March, then it is clear he was not go­ing to pay [had the bank not been placed un­der cu­ra­tor­ship],” said Holomisa.

The Sun­day Times has learnt that VBS di­rec­tors and au­dit­ing firm KPMG’s lead au­di­tor, Sipho Mal­aba, could have been ar­rested in Au­gust had the NPA acted on a fraud com­plaint by the Re­serve Bank.

In­stead of do­ing so, the NPA’s ad­vo­cate Mar­i­jke de Kock, a deputy di­rec­tor of pub­lic pros­e­cu­tions in the SCCU in Pre­to­ria, ad­mon­ished the Bank for jeop­ar­dis­ing any fu­ture VBS prose­cu­tion by ap­point­ing the in­de­pen­dent in­quiry by Mo­tau and Werks­mans At­tor­neys.

Ac­cord­ing to sources close to the VBS case, the Re­serve Bank laid a com­plaint against five VBS di­rec­tors and Mal­aba af­ter a pre­lim­i­nary re­port by Mo­tau re­vealed that the Bank had been de­lib­er­ately mis­led about the liq­uid­ity sta­tus of VBS through fraud­u­lent au­dit state­ments.

“There was no need to wait for the fi­nal re­port to be re­leased as this was a straight­for­ward case of fraud that could be pros­e­cuted im­me­di­ately. How­ever, the prose­cu­tor on the case ei­ther mis­took their man­date or com­pletely mis­un­der­stood the case as she took the Re­serve Bank to task for ap­point­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion in the first place,” said a le­gal ex­pert work­ing on the case.

NPA spokesper­son Mfaku said he was not aware of De Kock’s let­ter to the Re­serve Bank, and said she has in fact been ap­pointed to lead the high-pro­file team of prose­cu­tors work­ing with the Hawks and Bank of­fi­cials.

With ar­rests “im­mi­nent” in the VBS saga, the deputy chair of the ANC in Lim­popo, Florence Radzi­lani, and pro­vin­cial trea­surer Danny Msiza are to face the party’s in­tegrity com­mis­sion re­gard­ing their deal­ings with VBS. Msiza is named as the mid­dle­man who ne­go­ti­ated big com­mis­sions for him­self in re­turn for con­vinc­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in the prov­ince to in­vest with the bank. Radzi­lani — who is mayor of the Vhembe dis­trict mu-

nic­i­pal­ity, which in­vested R300m in VBS — is said to have asked for a “Christ­mas” (mone­tary gift) in re­turn for keep­ing that money at VBS.

“We gave her 300k and she cried and said we gave ju­niors R1.5m and we give her 300k … We said we will con­sult with you and will sort her out on Fri­day morn­ing,” read a What­sApp from Ka­belo Mat­sepe, a fa­cil­i­ta­tor of funds from mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to VBS, to Ma­todzi, sus­pected to be the main cul­prit in the loot­ing. Radzi­lani could not be reached for com­ment.

Also im­pli­cated in the loot­ing is EFF deputy pres­i­dent Floyd Shivambu’s brother, Brian. Yes­ter­day the older Shivambu de­nied hav­ing ben­e­fited from the R16m paid to his brother’s com­pany.

The VBS loan to Zuma is also the sub­ject of a court chal­lenge in the Supreme Court of Ap­peal in which Venda King Toni Mphe­phu Ram­ab­u­lana’s sis­ter, Masindi Ram­ab­u­lana — who is lay­ing claim to the throne — is ar­gu­ing that Zuma gave the crown to her brother as a re­ward for help­ing Zuma get the loan.

Mean­while, the VBS loot­ing has claimed its first high-pro­file vic­tim in the form of Pha­laphala Ramikosi, chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer at the SAPS, who was the bank’s nonex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor and the chair of its au­dit com­mit­tee. Ramikosi re­signed as SAPS CFO on Thurs­day, the day Mo­tau’s re­port came out.

Ramikosi is named in the re­port as hav­ing “con­fessed” to ben­e­fit­ing from “un­law­ful pay­ments made to a nom­i­nee com­pany for his ben­e­fit”.

For­mer pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma

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