Re­serve Bank takes aim at VBS loot­ers

The Sunday Independent - - NATION - SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI

THE SA Re­serve Bank is go­ing af­ter those be­hind the loot­ing of VBS Mu­tual Bank and is de­mand­ing that they de­clare, on their tax re­turns, the money they re­ceived from the failed fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tion. Deputy gov­er­nor of the Re­serve Bank Kuben Naidoo told Par­lia­ment last week that the bank would give the SA Rev­enue Ser­vice (Sars) a re­port on those be­hind the loot­ing.

Naidoo was ad­dress­ing the stand­ing com­mit­tee on fi­nance, with mem­bers of the Hawks and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Na­tional Trea­sury, the SA In­sti­tute of Char­tered Ac­counts and the Na­tional Pros­e­cut­ing Author­ity (NPA), among oth­ers, in at­ten­dance.

A foren­sic re­port by advocate Terry Mo­tau SC found sev­eral in­di­vid­u­als, in­clud­ing for­mer ex­ec­u­tives of VBS and peo­ple with po­lit­i­cal con­nec­tions, re­ceived hun­dreds of mil­lions of rand from the bank, and that al­most R2 bil­lion was looted from it.

Naidoo said the Re­serve Bank wanted those im­pli­cated to de­clare on their tax re­turns what they re­ceived from VBS, and Sars would take up the mat­ter af­ter the re­port was sub­mit­ted to it. “If peo­ple claim they pro­vided a ser­vice, they must pay in­come tax,” said Naidoo.

The Na­tional Trea­sury said it was the task of the Re­serve Bank’s Pru­den­tial Author­ity to reg­u­late the af­fairs of banks.

The NPA has al­lo­cated five pros­e­cu­tors to the Hawks to work on the loot­ing case. The Hawks have di­rected 10 in­ves­ti­ga­tors to in­ves­ti­gate the mat­ter, and in­di­cated it would take a long time to con­clude the probe and ef­fect ar­rests.

But the NPA has be­gun the process of seiz­ing the as­sets of some of the peo­ple im­pli­cated in the loot­ing of VBS. The process of as­set seizure will run par­al­lel with in­ves­ti­ga­tions con­ducted by other law en­force­ment agen­cies.

Mo­tau con­firmed that some of the peo­ple im­pli­cated in the re­port, in­clud­ing Brian Shivambu, the younger brother of EFF deputy leader Floyd Shivambu, had said they would have the re­port re­viewed. This was based on the fact that they were not given an op­por­tu­nity to give their in­put on the mat­ter be­fore the re­port was re­leased. Mo­tau said one per­son had al­ready chal­lenged the re­port in court.

The VBS loot­ing has been in the pub­lic do­main for sev­eral weeks fol­low­ing the Re­serve Bank’s re­lease of Mo­tau’s re­port.

The Re­serve Bank said that, de­spite all ef­forts, VBS would not be saved. It said VBS had a gap­ing R372 mil­lion “hole”, and if any­one wanted to buy the bank they would have to deal with that prob­lem.

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