Apartheid-era plunder to be probed after all

IOL News si thuli INLSA Public Protector Thuli Madonsela will probe missing apartheid billions. Picture: Phill Magakoe.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela anticipates she will have some tough questions for the government once her probe into missing apartheid billions gets under way.

This week Madonsela announced she had reversed her initial decision not to investigate allegations that upwards of R26 billion was looted from state coffers via various schemes under apartheid.

The allegations originate from a report compiled by a UK-based investigation and asset recovery firm, Ciex, which alleges it was contracted by the government to track billions which were siphoned from the government in the dying years of apartheid.

Leading South African bank Absa is mentioned in the report, along with Nedbank, as alleged beneficiaries of ill-gotten gains.

Absa has confirmed that it has attempted to make contact with Madonsela’s office.

The head of Absa’s group legal department, Marthinus van Rensburg, said the bank would “fully co-operate” with the investigation, “despite firmly believing that the matter was finalised by the Davis Panel investigation”.

“The Davis Panel (led by Judge Dennis Davis) investigated the matter in 2001 and 2002 and concluded that Absa did not unlawfully or otherwise benefit from the Bankorp assistance. Absa was consequently found not to be liable. Absa does not agree with the allegations made in the report, as far as they pertain to Absa,” Van Rensburg said.

The Ciex report also details schemes where funds were allegedly siphoned via US-based companies which were paid for services and goods which were never provided.

Ciex also investigated irregular payments made by Armscor – which allegedly totalled R14.4bn.

Ciex, which is owned by former MI6 agent Michael Oatley, is said to have reported its findings to several members of cabinet, including Thabo Mbeki – who was deputy president at the time – then Finance Minister Trevor Manuel and former Labour Minister Tito Mboweni, who went on to succeed Chris Stals at the helm of the Reserve Bank.

The company had expected to earn a percentage of the recovered funds, but lost out on the anticipated commission.

According to Ciex, the contract, which was signed by former SA Secret Service head Billy Masetla in 1997, was suddenly terminated following the 1999 elections when Mbeki was elected president.

In addition to speaking to the alleged beneficiaries of the looted funds, Madonsela said the government would have to be questioned.

“My approach has been that if we are going to do it, we will go beyond just asking the implicated.

“The government also has to be interviewed in terms of where they stand with this and what was their reaction to this, because remember this was commissioned.

“The starting point is also to find out what has been done since this was commissioned. And if nothing was done, why nothing was done,” she said.

Initially, Madonsela had said resource constraints would prevent her office from investigating, but said she had been swayed by advocate Paul Hoffman, who had submitted the report to her last November.

She wants anyone with information to come forward to expedite the process. - Dianne Hawker

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Ringmaster, wrote

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07:30am on 11 July 2011
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ALL corruption must be rooted out. Any immoral use of taxes must be identified, whether it includes a current or previous president or not. Taxes are paid by the subjects for the benefit of the public, not select individuals. Viva PP, viva! Expose, name and shame.

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silver and gold, wrote

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07:25am on 11 July 2011
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@ Jabu, I hope so. If she does she will enjoy even more respect and support. It will not change the perspective on the current government being corrupt to the core. As usual 2 wrongs don't make it right. If they recover the 26 billion, they will disappear again. This time into the new officials pockets.

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Jabu, wrote

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03:03pm on 10 July 2011
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This is very interesting. Let us see if the Public Protector will continue to enjoy te support she has been receiving from the anti-transformation and anti-revolutionary forces that have been celebrating and singing her praises each time she investigated the current government officials. Let these reactionaries continue to support Ms. Madonsela, let us see if they will run to international bodies for support when the apartheid-government leaders refuse to cooperate. Also, let us see if the Public Protector will pursue this investigation with the same vigour and enthusiasm with which she investigates the current leaders.

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