Guptas ‘laundered’ R52m in Hong Kong, #StateCaptureInquiry told
Shiwa Mazibuko, head of the Sarb financial surveillance department, told the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture that letterbox company Homix exported R51.8m through Mercantile Bank via an intermediary in 2015 before R14.4m was blocked.
Mazibuko said Homix was used to take money out of the country illegally and committed trade-based money laundering. “If this was not stopped, this could have been R500 million after some time,” he said.
Commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo asked why there was no system that prevented such large amounts of money from moving out of the country.
Mazibuko said it was difficult to trace each and every transaction as 500 000 foreign exchange transactions worth trillions of rand were processed daily.
The Hong Kong beneficiaries were Morning Star International, to which 14 of the 16 transactions investigated were destined, and YKA International Trading Company, which received the remaining two.
Mazibuko said both companies had sole directors.
“It was a money laundering scheme,” he said.
Homix was nominated by Gupta associate Salim Essa to receive payments from Transnet and Regiments Capital.
Essa initially nominated Chivita Trading to receive money from Regiments but later put forward letterbox company Homix.
Chivita was paid more than R80m in a few months in 2014 while Homix received about R95m from Regiments Capital.
Last week, the commission heard how Homix was paid R36m for facilitating a R1.8billion deal between Transnet and telecommunications network operator Neotel in December 2014 despite not adding any value.
Earlier this year, Standard Bank’s former general counsel Ian Sinton said Homix received payments from Regiments on Essa’s behalf.
According to Sinton, most of the funds transferred into Homix’s Standard Bank account, which has since been closed, were from Neotel, Regiments, Cutting Edge Commerce, Digital Video Solutions and Sechaba Computing.
Most of the R324m transfers were later paid to Bapu Trading.
The commission also concluded the evidence of former Transnet treasurer Mathane Makgatho, who gave shocking testimony on how she feared for her life and being poisoned due to the toxic environment at the state-owned freight and rail transport company.
Makgatho said she was tipped off that there was a meeting in which Essa told the gathering she was a stumbling block, but never found out what it resolved.
She said she was completely paralysed when she was made aware that the Taiwanese Mafia was involved in the multibillion-rand deals that Transnet was negotiating with Chinese companies.
“It was rough. It was so bad that if I had opened a bottle of water and for some reason turned, I would not drink that water,” Makgatho said, adding that she was afraid she would be poisoned.
“We were fighting so much that swear words became the order of the day,” Makgatho recalled her 21-month tenure as Transnet treasurer.
Mazibuko will resume his evidence on Monday.