Peet Venter reveals how Bosasa defrauded SARS in salary scheme
Johannesburg - A former Bosasa auditor has told the Zondo commission how Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson instructed him to perform various illegal activities including delivering a bag of cash to former correctional services boss Patrick Gillingham.
Peet Venter concluded his evidence at the commission on Wednesday and detailed various instances where he did certain acts at Watson’s behest.
"I was instructed to make payments on behalf of Gavin Watson. He would use people to give instructions to do certain things. I only dealt directly with him in the last year and a half I was with Bosasa and that's when I experienced first-hand instructions," said Venter.
Venter detailed how in October 2017 he was asked to deliver a bag, which he assumed contained cash, in his meeting with Gillingham. He said he did not question that act and simply did as he was told.
Gillingham was the former CFO at the department of correctional services and he left the department under a cloud. Former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi detailed in January at the commission that Gillingham was one of several correctional services officials that were bribed by Bosasa in exchange for tenders.
Venter had assisted Gillingham with his taxes and those services were paid for by Bosasa.
“Gavin Watson kept on making illegal demands and I just couldn’t take it anymore. The last nail in the coffin was when he told me to meet Mr Patrick Gillingham and to hand him a parcel containing cash, I knew it was cash because it was wrapped in a bank secure bag,” he said.
"I handed him the parcel, he took it and we continued with our meeting," said Venter.
Venter also detailed how an employee of Consilium, a labour brokering company contracted by Bosasa, Louis Passano had requested that his salary be reduced on his payslip to reflect that he earned R90 000 and not the original R137 000 that he earned. Passano had taken over from Bosasa’s former CFO Andries van Tonder.
Venter said Passano had been sequestrated and was requesting to disguise his salary in order to show his curator that he earned less so he could pay a lower amount to his creditors.
“Louis Passano also mentioned that Gavin Watson would pay him the balance (of his salary) in cash. By doing this he defrauds SARS as well as the curator,” said Venter.
Passano was legally not supposed to be appointed to handle Bosasa’s finances as a result of his sequestration.
On Tuesday, Venter had told the commission about Watson’s request that he make an R500 000 payment to Andile Ramaphosa’s foundation.
The EFG2 bank account that the money was transferred to was revealed, by News24, to belong to the Ramaphosa campaign’s legal firm.
The president also confirmed that his campaign did receive the money, but he denied that he had knowledge of the transaction.
Venter was asked again about the nature of the transaction and about its legal status. Advocate Refiloe Molefe told Venter that accounting experts had informed that commission that the transaction was not legally recorded to stipulate its reasons.
Venter admitted that the transaction was not legally accounted for by Miotto Holdings, a dormant company used by Venter to make suspicious payments on Watson’s behalf. The R500, 000 payment to “Andile Ramaphosa” was simply referenced as “social development”.
“Would you accept that Miotto was no more than a vehicle used to disguise the true nature of the transaction?” Molefe asked Venter.
“I think that was the reason,” Venter replied.
“So, in other words, it would be a money laundering transaction?” Molefe asked.
“Otherwise Mr Watson would have paid me directly, he did not want to pay from his own account,” Venter replied.
The commission resumes on Thursday with former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi expected to return to the witness stand.IOL