State cap­ture probe of old ‘white cap­i­tal’

Sunday Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - STORM BATTERS DUR­BAN

THE war be­tween Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane, the SA Re­serve Bank and top banks is far from over.

Mkhwe­bane is forg­ing ahead with her in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­leged apartheid eco­nomic crimes im­pli­cat­ing the Re­serve Bank, top banks and business peo­ple.

She came un­der at­tack from the Re­serve Bank and Absa last week.

In an af­fi­davit, Absa ac­cused her of hav­ing ul­te­rior mo­tives when she said in her June re­port that R1.125 bil­lion in apartheid-era govern­ment funds should be re­cov­ered from Absa and the Re­serve Bank’s man­date must be changed.

The Re­serve Bank, in an af­fi­davit filed last week, ac­cused the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor of be­ing part of a con­spir­acy in­volv­ing the State Se­cu­rity Agency.

The mat­ter is a se­quel to a re­port by Ciex, a covert Uk-based as­set re­cov­ery agency. The com­pany was con­tracted by the govern­ment be­tween Oc­to­ber 1997 and De­cem­ber 1998 to ad­vise on how to re­coup money it lost due to apartheid-era loot­ing or il­licit ac­tiv­ity.

Thabo Mbeki, who was then deputy pres­i­dent, and sev­eral other govern­ment of­fi­cials were in­ter­viewed as part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The com­pany sub­se­quently pro­duced a re­port sug­gest­ing bil­lions of rand was stolen dur­ing the apartheid era, of which R26bn was re­cov­er­able im­me­di­ately.

Mkhwe­bane’s spokesper­son, Cleopa­tra Mosana, said Mkhwe­bane had re­ceived a com­plaint from a group of ANC MPS against the SA Re­serve Bank, Pub­lic In­vest­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (PIC), Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Cen­tre, the Trea­sury, SA Air­ways, Eskom, the SA Rev­enue Ser­vice, South African busi­ness­men, banks and in­sur­ance com­pa­nies.

While Mosana did not dis­close the iden­ti­ties of the busi­ness­peo­ple be­ing in­ves­ti­gated, it’s un­der­stood the Ru­perts are among in­di­vid­u­als cited in the Ciex re­port.

Mosana said be­cause of the com­plex­ity of the mat­ter, the vol­ume of ev­i­dence ob­tained and prob­a­bil­i­ties of in­ter­view­ing sev­eral wit­nesses, the in­ves­ti­ga­tion could take up to two years.

She dis­closed that the MPS were re­cently in­vited to a meet­ing with Mkhwe­bane and had pro­vided sup­port­ing doc­u­ments.

Asked if Mkhwe­bane was not con­cerned by claims that the ANC MPS’ com­plaint was an at­tempt to di­lute an in­quiry into state cap­ture al­le­ga­tions, Mosana said Mkhwe­bane was con­cerned with such “un­sub­stan­ti­ated claims as they are un­der­min­ing the in­de­pen­dence and ef­fec­tive­ness of the pub­lic pro­tec­tor”.

Loy­iso Mpuml­wana, one of the ANC MPS who lodged a com­plaint with Mkhwe­bane’s of­fice, said sup­port for them was “sub­stan­tial and has been grow­ing” and the group now com­prised about 150 MPS.

“We un­equiv­o­cally sup­port the ANC state­ment that called for an ur­gent state cap­ture in­ves­ti­ga­tion that is broad­ened to in­clude all the big cor­po­ra­tions,” Mpuml­wana said.

He added: “Solely fo­cus­ing on al­le­ga­tions against the Gupta fam­ily while ig­nor­ing crime by white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal which has for decades con­trolled and still con­trols the econ­omy is akin to chas­ing the rab­bit while ig­nor­ing the buf­falo.”

While Mpuml­wana was adamant the MPS’ ac­tion en­joyed ANC sup­port, party spokesper­son Zizi Kodwa said: “The ANC read in the me­dia of the in­ten­tion by a group of ANC MPS to lodge a com­plaint with the pub­lic pro­tec­tor as in­di­vid­u­als, not on be­half of the ANC.”

For­mer pub­lic pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela launched a probe into the Ciex re­port af­ter a com­plaint was laid by ad­vo­cate Paul Hoff­man in 2010.

The 52-page re­port, which Mkhwe­bane re­leased in June, ar­gued that the coun­try’s fi­nan­cial sys­tems were in­her­ently cor­rupt, un­der the con­trol of the Broeder­bond and had served the in­ter­ests of the old regime.

Ciex iden­ti­fied three ma­jor op­por­tu­ni­ties to re­cover funds: Absa (R3.2bn), San­lam and the then Rem­brandt Group (R3bn to R6bn) and up to R5.5bn from Aerospa­tiale and Daim­ler­chrysler.

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