[imagesource: News24/ Twitter]
At this point in time, the words ‘VBS Bank Scandal’ are as common in the South African political lexicon as “Nkandla” and “State Capture”.
VBS Mutual started as a small, relatively unknown bank built around an investment scheme designed to encourage community growth.
Then former President Zuma took out a R7 million loan from it to ‘pay back the money’ for upgrading his Nkandla homestead, throwing the bank into the spotlight.
When almost R2 billion then went missing from the bank, leaving customers destitute, while VBS big dogs and their affiliates lived lavish lifestyles, investigations were launched and the scam was laid bare.
Four of the men were arrested during early morning raids by the Hawks on Wednesday, while three others handed themselves over to police later. One is in quarantine with COVID-19.
The eight men arrested in connection with the plundering of VBS Mutual Bank face a raft of charges including money laundering, theft, fraud and corruption.
An 80-page indictment shows that the eight men are former VBS Mutual Bank and Vele Investments chairman Tshifhiwa Calvin Matodzi, former VBS Mutual Bank CEO Andile Ramavhunga, former CFO Philip Truter, former treasurer Phophi Mukhodobwane, former KPMG partner Sipho Malaba, former police officer Avashoni Ramikosi, and former Public Investment Corporation executives Ernest Nesane and Paul Magula.
Julius Malema doesn’t appear on that list, but I have a feeling he’ll be sweating bullets once the affidavits and statements start rolling in.
Seven of the VBS eight appeared in the Palm Ridge Regional Court this morning. The eighth, as mentioned, is in quarantine, which seems pretty decent timing.
Let’s break down who they are, and how they were allegedly involved in the scheme.
This is the same Tshifhiwa Matodzi, former chair of VBS Bank, who hit the ski slopes in Alaska three months before VBS was placed under curatorship following a liquidity crisis. He also had at least two properties in his name.
The indictment shows that Matodzi was in control of a few VBS Mutual Bank accounts including Vele investments, Petronet, Venmont, Robvet, Khavo, Scorpion, Tiisang.
Between 2016 and 2018, Ramavhunga, the indictment shows, was paid roughly R19 million deposited into the account of his company, “Dambale”.
Other accounts, held at VBS Mutual Bank, which Ramavhunga controlled, include those of Munyai Investments and another one named in the indictment as the “Ramavhunga” account.
The money kept flowing in and by 2018, multiple accounts belonging to Ramavhunga had been topped up with a total of R24,4 million.
Truter allegedly received R2 million into an FNB account held by a company called Shangri La Investments.
Mukhodobwane received a payment of R5,6 million into the account of a company called Lamawave Ltd”.
This is where it gets weird:
The indictment shows that a Peter Mukhodobwane, who was the sole shareholder of Lamawave, was a front for Phophi Mukhodobwane, the former treasurer.
In total, he received R17,1m into Lamawave and the “Mukhodobwane” accounts.
There are quite a few people implicated in this one. TimesLIVE sums it up nicely:
The document shows that a company called Ihaawu Lesizwe, owned by Jacqueline Jaseman Malaba and Bafana Milundelwa Malaba, had the following accounts at VBS Mutual Bank: two vehicle finance accounts, a mortgage account and a classic business account.
Betanologix, another company owned by Jacqueline Jaseman Malaba and a Mwise Mapepo also had an account at VBS Mutual Bank.
Up to March 2018 both companies, which the indictment claims were fronts for Sipho Malaba, received up to R29.2m.
Furthermore, Matodzi instructed an amount totalling R654 000 to be paid into the trust accounts of Makaula Zilwa Inc and NGL attorneys on behalf of Malaba.
A company called Zanoware, supposedly owned by Alice Manye, was actually a front for Ramikosi, according to the indictment. The company received roughly R750 000 from Venmont. That, you will recall, is one of the accounts controlled by Matodzi.
The indictment states that Nesane received up to R1,1 million deposited into the account of a company called Parallel Properties, and owned by Rudzani Ndwammbi.
Nesane also allegedly benefited from R5,6 million paid into Parallel Properties from the Vele account controlled by Matodzi.
A company called Investar Connect Holdings, supposedly owned by Lot Magosha, was in actuality a front for Magula.
The company was paid R2.8m for the benefit of Magula on instruction from Matodzi.
Another company, Hekima Capital, which had an account at VBS Mutual Bank, received R3.3m on behalf of Magula on Matodzi’s instruction.
The prosecutors will be arguing that all eight of the accused listed above were associated, and that they worked together to defraud VBS Mutual Bank with the intention of lining their own pockets.
Fraud and money laundering played a part in their attempts to cover it all up.
In court today, the seven accused that appeared pleaded not guilty to the multiple charges they each face.
Read more about that, here.
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