Businessman Thoshan Panday. Picture: S'bonelo Ngcobo
Businessman Thoshan Panday. Picture: S'bonelo Ngcobo

Thoshan Panday to appeal 2010 Fifa World Cup R55m tender fraud ruling

By Lyse Comins Time of article published Sep 18, 2020

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Durban - Durban businessman Thoshan Panday said he would appeal a Pietermaritzburg High Court judgment that ruled against his bid to have charges relating to fraud and corruption surrounding a 2010 Fifa World Cup tender fraud scandal quashed.

Panday, who had been charged with fraud and corruption in connection with SAPS expenditure of an estimated R55 million for temporary police accommodation during the World Cup, argued in court papers that the decision by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to prosecute him was not legal or rational.

It was alleged that Panday and his co-accused, then policemen Colonel Navin Madhoe and Captain Ashwin Narainpershad, defrauded the SAPS.

Panday yesterday said the allegations of fraud and corruption against him were false and he intended appealing the ruling.

“I do not agree with the judgment. In my opinion, the judge erred in a number of respects, and I am taking the judgment on appeal.

“The allegations made against me are simply untrue, and I have persistently denied them for the past 10 years,” Panday said.

He said the “crux” of his review application was the Hawks’ failure to disclose recorded conversations to the national director of public prosecutions and his legal team.

“These recordings have still not been disclosed, yet, they are referred to in other matters. It begs the question: What are the Hawks trying to hide by refusing to produce the tape recordings?”

Panday argued in the high court review application that then former NPA head Shaun Abrahams had acted outside his powers and taken the decision to prosecute him without adequately consulting former KZN NPA head Moipone Noko and without obtaining recordings of his telephone calls the Hawks had intercepted and held in their possession.

Judge Trevor Gorven dismissed with costs Panday’s application to review Abrahams’ decision to prosecute him in several cases. He also criticised Noko’s decision in 2017 to not prosecute Panday despite thousands of documents of evidence and a 400-page forensic report.

The judge said the investigation into the accommodation matter had “gone anything but smoothly and, as a result, spawned three further dockets”.

The main investigation came up when concerns were raised regarding R55m spent on accommodation procurement in 2009/2010.

“Apart from the fact that R55 million was expended that year, only a single agent had been used to obtain quotations. Most expenditure benefited Goldcoast Trading CC, which is allegedly linked to Mr Panday.

“It also appeared that invoices had been subsequently inflated. In addition, it appeared that invoices had been split into amounts of less than R200 000 to avoid the need for a full procurement process and the scrutiny attended on it. The invoices were allegedly approved by Colonel Madhoe, to whom payments were also allegedly made,” the judge said.

Two other cases involved alleged interference with the investigation.

In the first, former KZN Hawks head Major General Johan Booysen said he had been instructed by the then KZN SAPS provincial commissioner General Mmamonnye Ngobeni to abandon the investigation.

A case was opened concerning the alleged actions of Ngobeni.

In the second case, it was alleged Madhoe had, on behalf of Panday, attempted to bribe Booysen to quash the case.

Judge Gorven said that when Abrahams made his decision, he had “a record running to some 3790 pages”, which included invoices, statements of witnesses and a forensic report which concluded that the documents supported charges of fraud and corruption.

“Abrahams could conclude that the decision to prosecute was well founded upon evidence reasonably believed to be reliable and admissible. Whether that material will prove to be sufficient in any prosecution is a matter for a trial court to determine,” he said.

NPA Investigating Directorate spokesperson Sindisiwe Twala said the directorate was studying the judgment as the case fell into the mandate of the new body’s founding proclamation.

“This, however, means that we are not hindered to look into the merits of this case. Testimony was led at the State Capture Commission last year about the capture of law enforcement and how this case falls into that mould,” she said.

“We cannot talk at length about this case until we have taken a decision to charge people.”

The Mercury

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