Court sets bail at R100 000 for suspects implicated in looting of VBS Bank
Johannesburg - The seven men who have been arrested and charged with 47 charges relating to the looting of the VBS Bank have each been granted R100 000 bail.
The men appeared at the magistrate court on Thursday following their arrests on Wednesday by the Hawks.
Those arrested include former VBS Bank chairman Tshifhiwa Matodzi, the bank's former chief executive Andile Ramavhunga, former treasurer Phophi Mukhodowane, Ernest Nene who had served as a PIC executive, former audit committee chairman Phalapha Ramikosi, Tshifelimbilu Nesane and Paul Magula a former PIC executive.
An eighth suspect, accused number three, Philippus Truster a former VBS Bank CFO did not appear in court as he is under quarantine.
All the men told Magistrate Brian Nemavhidi that they will plead not guilty to the charges and were confident about proving their innocence. They all said they were unable to afford the R100,000 bail proposed by the state as they were either unemployed or self-employed.
The state did not oppose bail but insisted that the amount proposed was meant to serve as a measure of the charges the men face.
The magistrate ruled that bail should be set at R100 000 for all accused and if they could not pay the amount required amount by 4 pm on Thursday they would be detained.
The matter has been postponed to October 8.
On Wednesday, Hawks boss Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya said the men were arrested during a raid at ten properties in Gauteng and Limpopo. Lebeya said the men benefited unduly from R122 million which was allegedly stolen from VBS Bank.
The suspects face 47 charges which include; five charges of racketeering, 12 counts of theft, 7 charges of fraud, 15 charges for corruption and 7 for money laundering.
Over R2 billion was stolen from VBS Bank and the men are accused of forming part of a plan to defraud the bank.
A report commissioned by the SA Reserve Bank found that the bank was swindled of over R2 billion.
The investigation was led by Advocate Terry Motau which found that close to R2 billion was looted from the bank with the help of executives. The report titled "The Great Bank Heist" was released in October 2018.
VBS Bank was formed to be a savings facility in 1982 and saw many individuals channel their savings to the bank. This included pensioners who had their lifesaving disappear after news of the looting came to light. A total of 20 municipalities across the country had illegally invested over a billion rands to the bank, with some only able to recover a few of the funds.
The Hawks began investigating the matter in August 2018 and a docket was drawn in March 2019.
Lebeya said the men had allegedly signed off on the bank's false financial statements which made it appear "rich while it was insolvent.IOL