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Durban - Suspended uShaka Marine World chief executive Shawn Thompson is preparing for a fight to clear his name. He said on Thursday that he had made a full financial disclosure in the 2010 financial year statements to uShaka’s board of directors and it was “shocking” and “strange” that charges had resurfaced now.
Thompson, 47, was arrested by the Durban commercial crime unit on Tuesday afternoon and charged with corruption. He is out on R5 000 bail and is due back in court in September.
He is accused of abusing his position as chief executive in that, in 2009, he submitted invoices for and authorised payments of R13 172 from uShaka Marine World to Villa Coco Guest House - a Durban North establishment owned by Thompson and/or his wife, Jackie - for the accommodation of three guests.
He is also accused of not following the correct procedures in procuring the accommodation for the guests.
On Thursday, in a statement to The Mercury, Thompson said: “The events that have unfolded over the past two days have caused a lot of anxiety for my family as well for as myself.”
Thompson said he was “disappointed” about the way in which events had unfolded.
“I intend doing all in my power to get to the bottom of this and to clear my name. Further details around the charges are being awaited and the alleged transgression that has apparently led to this unfortunate situation...”
He believes that his track record at uShaka over the past few years speaks for itself.
“I am still extremely proud of the fact that Auditor-General, Terence Nombembe commended uShaka Marine World for having the cleanest audit in the city for the past financial year,” he said.
City manager S’bu Sithole on Thursday distanced himself from the decision to suspend Thompson.
“He has not been suspended by us… He does not report directly to us but to the board of directors which is entrusted with corporate governance of the whole of uShaka Marine,” he said.
He was shocked by the arrest, and said he would look into the merits of the case and find out “what really happened” and then exercise his judgement on a way forward.
“The criminal charges have a different process altogether. We also have processes internally. What are the implications? Do we process disciplinary processes or not? We don’t know at this stage whether he is being rightfully charged or not,” he said.
Jacob Henry de Villiers Botha, the director of uShaka’s board, revealed on Thursday that uShaka chief financial officer Prakash van den Berg had been appointed to act in Thompson’s absence.
According to her Facebook profile, Van den Berg has previously worked as a chartered accountant for the SA Institute of Chartered Accountants in Joburg and for Suncoast Casino & Entertainment World.
Her profile states that she has worked as chief financial officer for uShaka from October 6, 2003 to date.
De Villiers Botha said the board was busy with its own investigation and a press conference would be held next week.
It would be business as usual for the uShaka complex.