Arrests in pensions probe
Businessman, trade unionist accused of embezzling millions
THE HAWKS crime- fighting unit has arrested a former textile unionist and a company director in Cape Town for allegedly embezzling millions of rand in clothing workers’ pension fund money.
The pair, at the forefront of the liquidation inquiry into Canyon Springs Investments – which saw the loss of R100 million of clothing workers’ pension funds – will spend the weekend behind bars until their court appearance on Monday.
Police say the Hawks launched a probe into the men’s financial affairs, effecting an arrest late on Thursday.
Spokesman Captain FC Van Wyk said, “Senior Hawks investigators are in possession of sensitive documentation which indicates that a 50- year- old Cape Town company director allegedly committed tax-related fraud to the tune of R942 838.”
The businessman was a former financial consultant of a well-known clothing industry trade union. “The company director is also linked to invoice fraud involving R7m pertaining to two companies. According to records, value added tax (VAT) monies had not been paid to Sars, but channelled elsewhere.”
Van Wyk said the second director, a 42-year-old man who is a 100 percent shareholder in a chain of companies, allegedly siphoned large amounts of cash from an empowerment trust into his personal account.
“Allegations against him amount to thefts from the trust and its assets involving R15m.”
Both suspects will appear separately in the Athlone and Cape Town magistrate’s courts on Monday.
Andre Kriel, general secretary of the SA Clothing and Textile Workers Union (Sactwu), yesterday welcomed the arrests.
“We will leave no stone unturned. We want every single cent of our members’ retirement fund monies back, and the guilty must go to jail for a very long time,” he said.
The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Michael Bagraim said it was about time that the law took its course.
“White collar fraud is as insidious as violent crime. This is not just a case of having a problem with the pension fund. This is about people’s lives being destroyed.”
Thousands of workers who planned for their retirement would be left in the lurch due to the disappearance of their funds, said Bagraim.