Sayed Mia Picture: Handout/Supplied

Johannesburg - Public works is suing a businessman and two former employees to recover R8 million of the R40m they allegedly defrauded from it, the department said on Monday.

The department filed lawsuits against businessman Sayed Hoosen Mia and former officials Desmond Simamane and Thabo Moagi, accusing them of defrauding the government of more than R40 million through a lease scam.

“We have recovered most of the money from other departments so far, where contracts were terminated and monies paid back. The department is looking to recover R8 million from the three,” spokesman Phillip Masilo said.

The matter would be heard in the High Court in Johannesburg.

Two years ago, the department began reviewing leases, which led to an internal investigation. The Star reported on Monday that the scam, which started in 2006 and continued for five years, led to the department paying R40m for the lease of six Johannesburg buildings from Mia.

Simamane and Moagi allegedly accepted bribes from Mia in exchange for recommending his companies for lease contracts for office space for other national government departments. Despite the money being paid the buildings were never used.

Simamane allegedly accepted a Nissan bakkie worth R156 400 and use of a BMW 525 worth R566 250 from Mia. He allegedly received payments of R640 500 via his football club's bank account.

Simamane and Moagi have since been fired.

A trial date had yet to be set. - Sapa