The case against 14 suspects accused of corruption in connection with the collapse of VBS Mutual Bank on Monday was postponed to 12 October 2021.
The group appeared in the Pretoria High Court for pre-trial proceedings, but the case was adjourned after some of the accused changed their legal teams. They face more than 100 charges of theft, fraud, money laundering, corruption and racketeering.
The state alleges the suspects, which include controversial Limpopo ANC leader Danny Msiza, looted nearly R2.3 billion from VBS’s coffers and doctored the bank’s 2017 financial statements to cover up the fact that it was insolvent.
Eight people were originally arrested in 2020, among them former VBS executives Tshifhiwa Matodzi, Andile Ramavhunga, Phophi Mukhodobwane and Philip Truter, as well as Ernest Nesane and Paul Magula, who both came from the Public Investment Corporation; Phalaphala Ramikosi, the SA Police Service’s former chief financial officer (CFO); and Sipho Malaba, formerly from KPMG.
But in October, Truter struck a deal with the state and pleaded guilty to charges of racketeering, money laundering, tax evasion, fraud and corruption. He is currently serving an effective seven years behind bars.
In 2018, the South African Reserve Bank placed VBS under curatorship and a forensic investigation was instituted to establish exactly what had gone wrong.
Advocate Terry Motau’s resultant 148-page report, titled VBS Mutual Bank – The Great Bank Heist, blew the lid on “a wide range of criminality in the conduct of the affairs of VBS” and recommended criminal charges be investigated.
A total number of 20 municipalities deposited an amount of R3.7 billion. Some of the lost funds, amounting to R67 million, were allegedly paid as brokerage commissions to entities and/or individuals to attract more deposits mainly from municipalities.
The investigation also revealed that VBS employees, municipal executives and other officials received gratifications for the investments made.
Additional reporting by Bernadette Wicks