Johannesburg - A forensic report reveals that Julius Malema used the Ratanang Family Trust account as his personal piggy bank, splurging almost R380 000 on designer clothes and R11 500 at the five-star Twelve Apostles hotel.
Some R5.7 million was deposited into the trust’s bank account through 166 cheques, and Malema was apparently the sole signatory.
The money trail left by the cheques reveals the lavish lifestyle of a man who appeared to have acquired an expensive taste for only the best and finest things in life.
Almost a quarter of a million was transferred into his personal accounts.
The report, by audit firm PwC, reveals that the former ANC Youth League leader spent R291 000 on clothes at an Italian boutique store and more than R31 000 on Louis Vuitton designer clothes, allegedly with money from the consulting firm On-Point Engineers, which is at the centre of corruption investigations by various state agencies, including the police and the taxman.
A company, which won a tender adjudicated by On-Point staffers, allegedly paid more than R382 000 towards Malema’s Mercedes-Benz Viano minibus, says the report.
This week the report was used by the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) to obtain an order on a R4m farm in Limpopo owned by Gwama Properties – a company owned by Malema’s On-Point business partner Lesiba Gwangwa. The order prevents Gwangwa from selling the property pending the finalisation of the asset forfeiture case.
On-Point won a contentious R52m contract – which is at the core of the criminal investigations – to run the Limpopo Roads and Transport Department’s project management unit.
The forensic report reveals how money was allegedly funnelled from On-Point to the Ratanang trust – established to benefit Malema’s son.
Malema is Ratanang’s trustee, but he is accused of using the trust as his cash cow.
The report, which is dated November 23, 2012, was complied by auditor Trevor White at the behest of the National Treasury, but was shared with the Anti-Corruption Task Team – which consists of the Hawks, AFU, Special Investigating Unit and National Prosecuting Authority.
The forensic audit offers the first detailed glimpse of a complicated matrix of payments, allegedly designed to conceal large-scale corruption.
Both men are facing criminal charges, including racketeering and money laundering.
Malema’s criminal case has been postponed to April.
The report makes a similar finding to that of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela – that On-Point had “memorandums of understanding” or “back-to-back” agreements with service providers who won roads contracts.
It was through such an agreement that Gwangwa allegedly arranged for a supplier to pay R382 659 towards the R829 000 purchase price of a Mercedes-Benz Viano “that was used exclusively by Mr Malema”.
In addition to a copy of the deposit slip, White says he interviewed a former staff member of Guilder Investments, the holding company which owns On-Point, who has personal knowledge of the agreements and payments.
Bank records also played a key role in tracking the payments.
White says that while the agreement for the Ratanang trust to own 50 percent of Guilder Investments was never finalised, Malema allegedly received “dividends”.
Between October 2010 and November last year, the Ratanang account allegedly received R1.3m from On-Point in 13 payments of R100 000 each.
In addition to the R1.3m, a further R6.35m was deposited into the trust account between January 29, 2009, and November 3 this year, the report says.
White wrote: “R5.7m of the money deposited into the Ratanang Family Trust bank account was paid out by way of 166 cheques. I have been provided with copies of 160 of these cheques, which all appear to have been signed by the sole signatory on the account, being Mr Malema.”
He said 159 of the cheques were “made out to cash and mostly for round amounts like R5 000, R25 000, R50 000, R100 000 and R200 000 and were not crossed”.
White added: “This is a very unusual practice especially when one takes into account the fact that his is the bank account of a trust and not Mr Malema’s personal accounts.”
The bank statements also detail transfers made to several high-end boutique stores between April 2009 and February 2010, totalling more than R116 000. The stores included Guess, Armani, Dunhill and Louis Vuitton.
However, the Vigano Boutique store received more than double what was spent at other stores, according to White’s analysis of seven trust cheques. Malema wrote R40 000 and R50 000 cheques to Vigano in one day.
The Sandton City website identifies the store as an “elegant high-class male boutique… This shop caters for the ever so stylish man for those with an exquisite taste for style, quality and elegance.”
In a February 2011 lifestyle interview with The Sunday Times, Malema was quoted as saying: “I buy my suits and most of my clothes there (Vigano). It’s owned by a friend of mine called Zweli. I go there because Zweli is responsive. For example, if I’m told at the last minute that I have to go to an event tomorrow, I can call him and he will bring me stuff. And he’s got my sizes.”
Between May 2009 and November last year, R226 000 was also transferred to Malema’s personal account from the trust account.
White says that in his opinion, “the Ratanang Family Trust was set up by Malema to be used as a conduit through which he could channel money, received in many instances from persons/enterprises which are doing work from government entities in Limpopo, with the hope of disguising or concealing the source of these funds and ultimately using the money for his personal benefit.” He also says Malema was not a beneficiary of the trust, and as a trustee Malema has not complied with his responsibilities and duties. “Malema has for his own benefit abused his position of trust in which he was placed,” the report reads.
Malema and Gwangwa were not available for comment.
A woman who answered Malema’s phone and identified herself as his sister said Malema left his phone at home. She refused to provide an alternative number.
Gwangwa’s lawyer, Mpoyana Ledwaba, said he was not aware of the latest order against his client.