De Lille urges Public Protector to probe George municipality's 'VBS-like scheme'
Cape Town - GOOD party leader Patricia de Lille on Thursday approached the Public Protector's office in Cape Town asking it to probe allegations that the Democratic Alliance-led George Municipality invested R350 million in Old Mutual and that the son of a councillor benefited financially from the referral fees.
De Lille handed in a dossier which contained, among others, a report by FTI Consulting which did a forensic investigation making negative findings against the municipality's chief financial officer.
The dossier also contains a letter purportedly sent from the municipal manager to FTI saying he had been instructed by the Council Speaker that he was not of the opinion the DA councillor in question had breached the Code of Conduct and that any probe into him be ceased immediately.
De Lille said this was a VBS-like scheme, referring to various municipalities illegally investing money in a mutual bank which is now defunct.
"The evidence, including a forensic investigation led by an independent firm of attorneys, points to the irregular transfers of hundreds of millions of Rands since 2017 by the George Municipality to Old Mutual," De Lille said.
"Linked to those transfers are handling fees paid to the son of the DA Councilor who is responsible for the municipality’s finances. Kickbacks evidently amounted to almost R400 000 in the first six months of the project alone."
The municipality, in a short response, said it was "aware of the allegations and confirms that an investigative process has been undertaken".
"No comment can be made on the outcomes of said process until finalised," the emailed response said.
A lengthier response by Western Cape local government MEC Anton Bredell accused De Lille of bending the truth.
"Sadly, Ms. De Lille has made unfounded statements that are devoid of fact," Bredell said in a statement.
"The Western Cape Government prides itself on taking strong action against any allegations of corruption and acting on wrongdoing without fear or favour."
Bredell said the provincial government was aware of the allegations and that a criminal complaint has been referred to the Hawks.
"In addition, the Municipality has procured the services of a forensic firm to investigate the allegations and the Provincial Department is further aware that the Municipality has in fact already initiated disciplinary processes against the implicated municipal official."
The municipality would, however, not confirm whether any action had been taken against any officials or councillors.
African News Agency (ANA)