The SA Reserve Bank and National Treasury faced persistent questions from MPs as to when wrongdoing at VBS first became apparent. File Photo: IOL

PARLIAMENT – Advocate Terry Motau warned on Wednesday that recovering money lost to fraud at VBS Mutual Bank would be a long process with limited success. 

"I'm not optimistic that we will recover a huge amount. If I were a betting man, I would say we would get 20c to 30c in the rand," Motau told Parliament's standing committee on finance.

He added that what he has termed the heist of VBS by corrupt directors was "not a victimless crime" because of the likelihood that it would take years to recover funds and not all depositors would be repaid in full.

"There are at least 3 percent of depositors we will not be able to fully refund."

He said their deposits totalled "a rough figure of R90 million".

The SA Reserve Bank has secured guarantees from National Treasury of up to R100 000 per depositor for VBS. But Motau pointed out that this still left vulnerable depositors such as a grandmother who had deposited her savings of R150 000 with the failed bank and a community stokvel that had half a million rand in its account.

Motau penned a damning 148-page forensic report that detailed how nearly R2 billion was illicitly paid out to 53 people and entities by the failed bank, and recommended that criminal charges be brought against those responsible.

Acting National Prosecuting Authority head Silas Ramaite told MPs that five state prosecutors were working on the case and giving guidance to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, or Hawks. He stressed that Motau's report served as a springboard for their investigations but was not sufficient basis in itself to proceed with charges.

"The report on its own is not sufficient to take us to a prosecution. We don't want to rely on it solely from the beginning knowing very well that there are already challenges," he told the committee.

"It is likely to be taken on review."

Motau, the SA Reserve Bank and National Treasury faced persistent questions from MPs as to when wrongdoing at VBS first became apparent.

Ismail Momoniat, the treasury's head of financial sector policy, acknowledged irregularities were highlighted in October 2017 and said the authorities could have acted faster.

"It certainly worries me, could we have been faster," he said but added that forcing municipalities at that point to withdraw money they had deposited with VBS in contravention of the law, would have triggered the bank's immediate collapse.

"It would have been easy to say to municipalities, here is the law take all your money out and the bank sinks."

African News Agency (ANA)