Former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)
Former Prasa CEO Lucky Montana. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)

Lucky Montana made suspicious property purchases, State Capture Inquiry hears

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Jul 2, 2020

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Johannesburg - The State Capture Inquiry has heard details about the suspicious property purchases allegedly by former Prasa chief executive Lucky Montana, through a shell company. 

On Thursday, the commission's lead investigator, Clint Oellermann, gave a timeline presentation of the inquiry's investigation into suspected corrupt property purchases which linked Montana and Precise Trade and Invest, the alleged shell company.  

The commission is currently hearing evidence of corruption involving the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).

The evidence presented focused on four properties which were purchased in 2014/15. 

The property purchases were initiated by Montana, but the ultimate payments for the properties were made through Precise Trade and Invest, whose sole director was lawyer Riaan van der Walt.

Van der Walt had been a lawyer at a law firm called Loubser van der Walt Inc and has since left the law firm and the country. 

Van der Walt's partner, Nicholas Johannes Loubser, appeared at the inquiry on Wednesday and explained his law firm's relationship with Van der Walt and his link to property purchases made by Precise Trade and Invest.

Oellermann explained that through the documentation provided by Loubser, a link was found that Montana had begun initiating property purchases and offers on three properties in 2014/2015.

The first property was in Waterkloof, worth R11 million. Montana had initiated the sale and had met with the owner. 

But when the transfer of costs and ownership was made, the money was transferred from Precise Trade and Invest, run by Van der Walt.  

A second property had the same hallmarks. Montana approached a property owner for the purchase of the house in Sandhurst, but when transfers and ownership were to get under way, a request would be made for the property to be registered under Precise Trade and Invest.

In this particular property, Oellermann said there was an issue with transfer costs and the owner approached Montana but the payment was later made by Precise Trade and Invest. '

The money used by Precise Trade and Invest was tracked from a "loan" provided to Precise Trade and Invest by a company called TMM Holdings.

In a third property to purchase the same modus operandi were observed – Montana approached the property owner to buy a house worth R13.9 million in Hurlingham.

In this instance, when Montana requested the registered name be in Precise Trade and Invest, the attorneys and the property owner refused and the property was eventually registered in Montana's name.

The commission heard that the bulk of the property payment was made by a company which is registered in Bostwana and was owned by a close associate of Van der Walt.

Oellermann explained that when the purchase of the properties were being initiated in 2014, Prasa had signed a multimillion-rand contract with Siyagena Technologies. 

Van der Walt had done legal work for Siyagena. TMM Holdings has links with Siyagena Technologies as some directors, such as a Mario Ferreira, were also involved in TMM and Siyagena.

TMM had been the same company that provided "loans" to Precise Trade and Invest and those funds were also used to pay for property initiated by Montana.

Oellermann explained that the common theme was that Montana would initiate interest in the properties but the ultimate "owner" would be registered as Precise Trade and Invest.

Oellermann said even though the registration of ownership would not be Montana, he remained active in discussions about the finalisation of the property deals.

The commission is still investigating the matters and Oellermann said a final report would be submitted.

When Olllermann went to the properties in Waterkloof and Hurlingham, they appeared to be abandoned.

The inquiry continues.

IOL

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