News24.com | VBS bank heist: More arrests are expected as Hawks eye directors, municipalities

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Seven men accused of defrauding VBS Mutual Bank appeared in the Palm Ridge Regional Court.

Seven men accused of defrauding VBS Mutual Bank appeared in the Palm Ridge Regional Court.

  • Hawks and National Prosecuting Authority say more people will be arrested soon in connection with the looting of VBS Mutual.
  • The Hawks say municipalities, companies, directors of companies and some influential people will be brought in.
  • Seven men, including VBS board members, appeared in court on Thursday and were each granted R100 000 bail.
  • The eighth was not in court because he is in quarantine.

The Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) have revealed that more individuals linked to the looting of about R2.2 billion from the now defunct VBS Mutual Bank could be arrested soon.

Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said more arrests are coming and “that is a fact”.

However, Mulaudzi did not want to reveal who the next targets were.

He assured the nation that more people will be arrested in connection with one of the country’s most widely publicised looting scandals.

READ | R100 000 bail for each accused in VBS heist

“We don’t want to point fingers now. Investigations will lead us to those we believe have been involved in the looting of the bank. We don’t have the number of suspects we are targeting, but there is a lot of people we have to look at.

“There are companies that we believe have benefitted illegally and others who got things in a wrong way. There will be directors of companies and people that we will be bringing in. We can’t confirm nor deny if our investigations include the EFF leaders,” said Mulaudzi.

Investigating

He said they were also investigating all municipalities that had deposited money into the bank.

“We are still busy and there is a lot that has to be done. With this case we are hoping that it is sending a good message to the public. We have worked very hard that this matter comes to court today.

“This is the first leg of our investigations and there are other legs coming. We are hoping that the country will take us into their confidence because we are taking all these matters seriously, hoping to get a good outcome,” said Mulaudzi.

So far, seven people have appeared in the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crimes Court sitting in the Palm Ridge Regional Court.  

All seven were granted R100 000 bail on Thursday.

MUST READ | VBS gang goes down – here’s everything you need to know

VBS chairperson Tshifhiwa Matodzi, who was described as the alleged “kingpin” of the looting scheme, VBS CEO Andile Ramavhunga, former VBS treasurer Phophi Mukhodobwane and former non-executive VBS board members Ernest Nesane and Paul Magula, as well as former KPMG engagement partner Sipho Malaba and Phalaphala Avhashoni Ramikosi, the former chief financial officer of the South African Police Service, are facing 47 charges of fraud, theft, money laundering, corruption and racketeering.

The eighth accused, former VBS chief financial officer Philip Truter, did not appear in court because he was in quarantine due to Covid-19. He will need to lodge his own bail application.

Magistrate Brian Nemavhidi warned the accused to surrender their passports and not to apply for new ones. He also asked them not to interfere with witnesses.

Evidence

NPA spokesperson Sipho Ngwema said a lot of good work had taken place in the background, and critical evidence had been collected.

He also promised that all necessary instruments would be used in terms of the law to recover some of the stolen money.

“The Asset Forfeiture Unit is following activities very closely. At the appropriate time, they will have to strike and do what they have to do.”

Ngwema said the State was ready to prosecute the matter.

“The State is ready, and we can start tomorrow. We have to take into account the new evidence that we have found, but that will assist in the other legs of the investigation. It is going to be a long journey.”

“We are biting this big elephant by chunks. From this, we will move to other legs. We are investigating concurrently, but this particular leg is ready to go on trial. What we don’t want to do is to give a running commentary in terms of how the legs are progressing.

“Our actions will speak for themselves. We will come to court when we have taken a particular action, or if it is a search and seizure operation,” said Ngwema.

The case was postponed until 8 October.

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