Pam Gold­ing is un­der in­tense scru­tiny

Sale of prop­er­ties worth R50m to ex-Mozam­bique pres­i­dent’s chil­dren, al­legedly pro­ceeds of ill-got­ten gains

Pretoria News - - FRONT PAGE - ED­WARD WEST ed­[email protected]

THE ES­TATE Agency Af­fairs Board (EAAB) is in­ves­ti­gat­ing al­le­ga­tions that top es­tate agency Pam Gold­ing Prop­er­ties con­tra­vened fi­nan­cial laws when fa­cil­i­tat­ing the sale of prop­er­ties to two po­lit­i­cally ex­posed Mozam­bi­cans, and ac­cept­ing the pro­ceeds of fraud.

The multi-pronged probe fol­lowed re­ports that the more than R18 bil­lion-a-year group al­legedly fa­cil­i­tated the sale of prop­er­ties to the chil­dren of for­mer Mozam­bi­can pres­i­dent Ar­mando Gue­buza, with­out fol­low­ing le­gal re­quire­ments and al­legedly aided money laun­der­ing.

The two prop­er­ties in Dain­fern and Kyalami Es­tate, north of Jo­han­nes­burg, are said to be worth a com­bined R50 mil­lion.

The EAAB will jointly probe with the Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Cen­tre (FIC), the al­le­ga­tions pub­lished in a Mail and Guardian re­port.

Pam Gold­ing Prop­er­ties’ gen­eral man­ager: real es­tate op­er­a­tions, Bradd Ben­dall, said yes­ter­day: “We take th­ese al­le­ga­tions ex­tremely se­ri­ously and have com­mis­sioned a full and in­de­pen­dent ex­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion.” He said the group’s own in­ves­ti­ga­tion was well un­der way, but that he was not in a po­si­tion to com­ment fur­ther at this stage.

“Fur­ther­more, we have not been no­ti­fied by ei­ther the EAAB or FIC of any in­ves­ti­ga­tion to be car­ried out by them, but we will co-op­er­ate fully,” he said.

South Africa’s reg­u­la­tions re­quire real es­tate com­pa­nies to iden­tify the ori­gin of funds used to pur­chase prop­er­ties, and con­duct ex­ten­sive due dili­gence on po­lit­i­cally ex­posed per­sons.

The Mail and Guardian re­ported that Pam Gold­ing al­legedly re­ceived il­le­gal funds in their trust ac­count on be­half of Mozam­bique’s then pres­i­dent Gue­buza’s son.

The funds were sent through Priv­in­vest, a Le­banon-based ship­build­ing com­pany that was iden­ti­fied by US pros­e­cu­tors as part of a probe into Mozam­bique’s $2bn (R31.3bn) bond that was al­leged to have in­debted Mozam­bi­cans and de­frauded in­vestors.

Priv­in­vest al­legedly also served as a pri­mary con­duit for the pay­ment of bribes to high-level Mozam­bi­can of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing the for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter Manuel Chang.

Un­like more so­phis­ti­cated money laun­der­ing schemes, the prop­er­ties owned by Gue­buza’s chil­dren – Ar­mando Gue­buza and Valentina Gue­buza – were listed un­der their own names.

“Pam Gold­ing should cer­tainly have known that the vast sum of the Gue­buza chil­dren’s prop­erty sale, and the use of a third party war­ranted an in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” the re­port noted.

EAAB chief ex­ec­u­tive Mamod­upi Mohlala said the al­le­ga­tions were of a se­ri­ous na­ture, and se­nior of­fi­cials from the reg­u­la­tor would lead the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“We have to en­sure there is full com­pli­ance, no mat­ter how big or small a li­censee. We de­mand full com­pli­ance in the in­ter­ests of con­sumer and pub­lic pro­tec­tion,” Mohlala said.

The EAAB, as the su­per­vi­sory board of the prop­erty in­dus­try, is set to meet with the FIC in the com­ing days to fi­nalise the scope of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Mohlala said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion would in­volve of­fi­cials do­ing on-site in­spec­tions at Pam Gold­ing Prop­er­ties’ premises, and re­quest­ing ac­cess to doc­u­ments.

Any ad­verse find­ings would re­sult in the agency be­ing hauled be­fore an EAAB dis­ci­plinary hear­ing. The fi­nal find­ings would de­ter­mine a pos­si­ble sanc­tion, which could in­clude a sub­stan­tial fine.

“We will ex­pe­dite the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and re­quest co-op­er­a­tion from all par­ties. The al­le­ga­tions against Pam Gold­ing’s con­duct is most con­cern­ing. We are aware that the prop­erty sec­tor, more es­pe­cially the real es­tate sec­tor, is a source of wealth cre­ation.

“We, how­ever, say cre­ate wealth legally and ac­cord­ing to the rules and poli­cies. No one is above the law.”

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion would probe whether Pam Gold­ing Prop­er­ties trans­gressed sec­tions of the FIC Act, such as sec­tion 21B, which re­quires de­ter­min­ing the iden­tity of a client; sec­tion 27A into money laun­der­ing and ter­ror­ist fi­nan­cial con­trol reg­u­la­tions; and sec­tion 28 into cash thresh­old.

Other sec­tions in­clude sec­tion 29 re­lat­ing to sus­pi­cious and un­usual trans­ac­tions; sec­tion 31 into cross-bor­der elec­tronic trans­fers; and sec­tion 42A which re­quires a com­pany and its em­ploy­ees to en­sure com­pli­ance with a risk man­age­ment and com­pli­ance pro­gramme.

The EAAB has, ac­cord­ing to re­ports, im­posed rel­a­tively le­nient fines on its mem­bers for var­i­ous trans­gres­sions, such as R25 000, but Pam Gold­ing directors might also have their fidelity fund cer­tifi­cates re­voked for up to three years. The cer­tifi­cates al­low them to sell prop­erty.

Mamod­upi Mohlala

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