Durban — As the controversy rages on over the origins of the millions of US dollars stashed at President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm, it has been revealed that the head of state and those close to him may have violated aspects of the international money transfer laws of the US.
An investigation carried out by the Daily News into the US Code (USC) title 18 of 1957, which focuses on money laundering as well as engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity, strongly indicates that Ramaphosa and his co-accused are in breach of the US laws.
This is after the damning allegations submitted by former spy boss Arthur Fraser, which exposed a potential cover up when $4 million was allegedly stolen at the president’s private farm in Limpopo.
The US International money transfer laws in accordance with the US code title 18 of subsection 1957, states that:
“(a) Whoever, in any of the circumstances set forth in subsection (d), knowingly engages or attempts to engage in a monetary transaction in criminally derived property of a value greater than $10 000 and is derived from specified unlawful activity, shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).
“(b) (1)Except as provided in paragraph (2), the punishment for an offence under this section is a fine under title 18, United States Code, or imprisonment for not more than 10 years or both.”
In addition, Code 1957 of the US international money law provides that a US court may impose an alternate fine of not more than twice the amount of the criminally derived property involved in the transaction.
“(c) In a prosecution for an offence under this section, the Government is not required to prove the defendant knew that the offence from which the criminally derived property was derived was specified unlawful activity.
“(d) The circumstances referred to in subsection (a) are - (1)that the offence under this section takes place in the United States or in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States; or (2) that the offence under this section takes place outside the United States and such special jurisdiction, but the defendant is a United States person (as defined in section 3077 of this title, but excluding the class described in paragraph (2)(D) of such section,” reads the US Code 1957.
Furthermore, it stipulates that violations of this section may be investigated by components of the Department of Justice as the Attorney-General may direct, and by such components of the Department of the Treasury as the Secretary of the Treasury may direct.
The US Code subsection 1957 also indicates that the term “monetary transaction” means the deposit, withdrawal, transfer or exchange in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, of funds or a monetary instrument (as defined in section 1956(c)(5) of this title.
“(2) The term ‘criminally derived property’ means any property constituting, or derived from, proceeds obtained from a criminal offence; and that the terms ‘specified unlawful activity’ and ‘proceeds’ shall have the meaning given those terms in section 1956 of this title.”
Pressed to respond, Ramaphosa has defended himself regarding the millions stolen from him and has reportedly said that the money was the proceeds from selling animals.
This raised questions about who the clients were and whether the transaction was declared to the SA Revenue Service and other key institutions.
Two weeks ago, Fraser laid a complaint against Ramaphosa, accusing him of breaching the Prevention of Organised Crime Act by not reporting the theft of the money.
He claimed the suspects who broke into the president’s property were subsequently kidnapped, interrogated, and paid off to keep silent.
Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Vincent Ngwenya, said that he would no longer comment on the matter because it was the subject of investigations.
Law expert Francois Botes weighed in and stated that the president needed to take the people of South Africa into his confidence before it was too late.
“The president is duty-bound to explain the situation and to disclose the origin of the foreign currency that was allegedly stolen from his farm. It will not be beneficial for the president to play hide and seek with the public.
“The public trust the president and have confidence in the president to combat corruption and money laundering. The president should therefore do the honourable thing and come clean on this issue,” said Botes.
Political analyst Professor Tumi Senokoane shared this view, saying that Ramaphosa must take the country into his confidence.
“The farmgate scandal has a lot more questions than answers. This is because Ramaphosa decided to respond by pre-empting a legal process and not providing many details. All we do now is speculate but he should have taken the country into his confidence and not choose a different path knowing that the media and business are on his side,” argued Senokoane.