Law enforcement agencies have asked the Palm Ridge Commercial Crimes Court to grant them a postponement of three months to allow them to arrest each and every suspect linked to the looting of VBS Mutual Bank
JOHANNESBURG – More arrests are expected over the R2 billion stolen from VBS Mutual Bank, with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Hawks having set a target of three months to put suspects behind bars.
Law enforcement agencies have asked the Palm Ridge Commercial Crimes Court to grant them a postponement of three months to allow them to arrest each and every suspect linked to the crime.
The request for postponement was made during the brief appearance on Thursday of Tshifhiwa Matodzi, former VBS board chairperson, Andile Ramavhunga, former chief executive, Phophi Mukhobdobwane, former treasurer, Sipho Malaba, KPMG auditor, Lieutenant-General Avhsahoni Ramikosi, non-executive director, and Ernest Nesane and Paul Magula, who both represented the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) on the VBS board as non-executive directors.
The seven were not asked to plead. The State requested the case to be postponed to January 21 to allow the prosecution to add more charges against the seven.
The State also intends to add more accused, the court heard.
Initially, when the seven accused made their first appearance on June 18, they were each charged with 47 counts ranging from multiple counts of fraud to corruption, tax evasion and money laundering.
On Thursday, State Prosecutor Hein van der Merwe told the court the prosecution was looking at the possibility of more arrests before their next appearance in January.
Van der Merwe said the accused’s legal team would be provided with the necessary additional information prior to their appearance.
However, the prosecution and NPA spokesperson Sipho Ngwema did not reveal their targets in court or during their public announcement of their reasons for a three-month postponement.
Some municipal managers and CFOs were linked to the crimes after the Gauteng and North West provincial governments had separately commissioned forensic reports into their municipalities’ investments into VBS Mutual Bank.
The findings of those forensic reports have corroborated the findings of the report which was commissioned by the South African Reserve Bank and led by advocate Terry Motau SC.
Motau dubbed his report “The Great Bank Heist”. He listed a number of people who worked for VBS and Vele Investment and who were allegedly paid large sums of money.
On Wednesday VBS chief financial officer Philip Truter admitted that he was part of a group of people involved in the theft of VBS Mutual Bank funds that were invested by pensioners and investments by several municipalities He pleaded guilty to five counts of racketeering, two counts of fraud, one count of corruption, one count of money laundering and one count of tax evasion.
He was sentenced to 10 years in jail of which three were suspended for five years.
Truter, in his plea bargain with the State, agreed to testify against all those implicated in the VBS Mutual Bank theft.