Hawks, NPA confirm arrest of suspects linked to VBS Bank looting, suspects face 47 charges
Johannesburg - The Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) have confirmed that four suspects linked to the looting of the VBS Bank have been arrested and three more were expected to hand themselves over.
Hawks head Lieutenant-General Godfrey Lebeya said on Wednesday morning the Hawks conducted raids on 10 properties in Gauteng and Limpopo. Four suspects were arrested and three others were expected to hand themselves over. An eighth suspect was subjected to quarantine and would be arrested at a later stage.
Those who have been arrested are expected to appear at the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court on Thursday.
The suspects face 47 charges which include five charges of racketeering, 12 counts of theft, seven charges of fraud, 15 charges for corruption and seven for money laundering. Lebeya said they could not reveal the suspects' names until they appear in court.
The looting of VBS Bank came into the spotlight in 2018 following the release of a report commissioned by the SA Reserve Bank (SARB).
The investigation was led by advocate Terry Motau which found that close to R2 billion was looted from the bank with the alleged help of executives. The report, titled "The Great Bank Heist", was released in October 2018.
VBS Bank was formed to serve as 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 R1 billion in the bank, with some only able to recover a little of the funds.
Lebeya confirmed that an investigation into the looting of the bank started in August 2018 and a charge sheet was drawn up in March 2019.
The SARB was made aware in March 2018 that VBS Bank would not be able to meet its financial obligations. Investigations showed that the "scam" to loot the bank started in July 2017 when the bank's board approved false financial statements which made the bank appear richer while it was insolvent.
The bank's chairperson Tshifhiwa Matodzi, and CEO Andile Ramavhunga allegedly approved the false financial statements. Lebeya said eight men unduly benefited from R122 million allegedly stolen from the bank.
Lebeya said more arrests could not be ruled out. He declined to comment on questions whether he had been in communication with EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu, whose brother had been linked to a company that received funds from VBS Bank. He also declined to reveal what was found during the raids conducted on Wednesday morning.
National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi said the arrests was an assaurance that corruption was being dealt with.
She said the NPA was determined to finalise corruption matters in time. While admitting that the arrests came two years after the investigations began, she said it was important to focus on quality service to ensure that victims receive justice.
On whether the State would be going after the assets of those accused of looting the bank, Batohi said the NPA's Asset Forture Unit was looking into the matter.IOL