Picture: Supplied
Picture: Supplied

Last chance for municipalities to claim VBS millions

By Loyiso Sidimba Time of article published May 8, 2021

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Johannesburg- Municipalities, businesses and shareholders owed by the now defunct VBS Mutual Bank have until two weeks to lodge their valid claims in the doomed financial institution.

VBS liquidator Anoosh Rooplal has told its creditors, who include municipalities, suppliers, retailers, businesses and permanent shareholders, that they have until May 21 to lodge their valid claims.

However, Rooplal also warned that there is no certainty that claims will be accepted by the Master of the High Court or that any amount of their claims will eventually be made available.

He said the claim merely proves who VBS’s legal claimants are.

“Please note that this is the final opportunity for all creditors of VBS Mutual Bank, who have not already lodged their claim, to come forward and lodge their claims against VBS,” Rooplal said in a notice sent to creditors on Thursday.

He further cautioned that admitting valid claims to the Master of the High Court is part of the insolvency process that will give creditors an opportunity to be counted as VBS’s valid claimants.

Rooplal said liquidators had gone beyond the requirements of the Insolvency Act in order to assist depositors and creditors to file their claims.

Advocate Terry Motau’s The Great Bank Heist report commissioned by the SA Reserve Bank’s Prudential Authority found that R2 billion was looted from VBS by its executives and politically connected individuals.

By the end of April 2018, 14 municipalities across the country had unlawfully deposited R1.23bn in VBS including the Fetakgomo Greater Tubatse with over R245 million, Greater Giyani (R162m), Lepelle Nkumpi (R155m) and Dr Ruth Mompati (R102m).

Rooplal’s call comes as the curator of the Bophelo Benefit Services (BBS) Juanito Damons has lodged a claim of nearly R183m in the liquidation of VBS for the sale of Mvunonala Holdings to the Vele Investments, VBS’s majority shareholder whose chief executive and chairperson were Robert Madzonga and Tshifhiwa Matodzi, respectively.

BBS, an approved benefit administrator, is a pension fund administered by the Bophelo Beneficiary Fund (BBF).

Damons has informed the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) that BBF has a claim of almost R183m in VBS’s liquidation for funds deposited for Mvunonala’s sale to Vele.

Mvunonala was BBS’s holding company bought by Vele in August 2017 and among the terms of the purchase agreement was that part of the R370m price would be utilised to recapitalise BBF and other trusts administered by BBS.

The FSCA previously indicated that the recapitalisation amount was deposited by Vele Investments into a VBS smart fixed deposit account held in BBS’s name.

Damons explained to the FSCA that Rooplal assured him that a dividend would definitely be paid but could not confirm the amount.

He has also liquidated Vele Financial Services and Vele Prop to possibly hold inquiries in terms of section 417 of the Companies Act, where liquidators will be able to access bank accounts, documents and subpoena witnesses and persons implicated in misappropriation of funds.

Last month, Rooplal announced that qualifying retail depositors, who had up to R100 000 in their VBS accounts, will be able to redeem their funds at Nedbank branches up until July 8.

Rooplal said of the original 18 300 deposit accounts, 17 750 valued at R260m have been activated and collected by depositors and the final 370 accounts amounting to about R3.7m still need to be claimed by depositors.

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Political Bureau

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