SIU freezes R22m in bank, investment accounts linked to Digital Vibes
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The Special Investigative Unit (SIU) has frozen more than R22 million found in the banking accounts of Digital Vibes and several other companies with close links to the owners of Digital Vibes.
The SIU revealed on Wednesday that the move was part of taking action against those responsible for and implicated in corruption, maladministration and malpractice related to the awarding of R150 million to Digital Vibes in November 2019, and extended last year to also include work related to communications on Covid-19.
SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the Special Tribunal, under Case No. KN 03/2021, allowed the SIU to freeze the sum of approximately R22 million held in bank and investment accounts linked to Digital Vibes (Pty) Ltd (Digital Vibes) or linked to entities/individuals who received payments from Digital Vibes, a communication firm at the centre of a Covid-19 media campaign contract that was awarded to it by the National Department of Health.
The Special Tribunal order prohibits Digital Vibes, Tahera Mather, Naadhira Mitha, Suhaila Mather, Suhaila Mather Consulting (Pty) Ltd, Amods Attorneys, WT Graphics and Designs (Pty) Ltd, and Strategeewhiz (Pty) Ltd from dealing with the funds held in the relevant bank and investment accounts in any manner.
Kganyago said the order was issued based on the information presented by the SIU investigating team and certain information sourced and assisted by the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), between June 4 and 14, 2021. After being approached by the SIU with evidence, the FIC issued intervention directions under Section 34 of the FIC Act to place a hold on approximately R22m of funds derived from the monies paid to Digital Vibes by the department for a period of 10 working days.
“The SIU approached the Special Tribunal for preservation order / interdict to freeze the accounts following an investigation into allegations of unlawful and/or irregular procurement of Covid-19 communication services by the department.
“The SIU will launch review proceedings in the Special Tribunal within the next 30 working days, and also seek an order against Digital Vibes and other relevant entities/individuals to pay back all financial losses suffered by the state as consequence of the appointment of Digital Vibes by the Department,” Kganyago said.
However, he said that the SIU investigation into the appointment of Digital Vibes was ongoing, saying the preliminary investigations have revealed clear evidence exposing two highly irregular and unlawful transactions.
Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize was not cited in the application but his director-general, Dr Sandile Buthelezi, was among the 12 respondents.