Screengrab of the www.vbsmutualbank.co.za website
Screengrab of the www.vbsmutualbank.co.za website

State agencies will battle to find VBS loot, says investigative journalist Dewald van Rensburg

By Siviwe Feketha Time of article published Oct 14, 2020

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Johannesburg: Law enforcement agencies will have a difficult time in their attempts to follow the money that was looted and dished out to politicians and other influential figures in the VBS looting scandal.

This according to investigative journalist Dewald van Rensburg who has written the new book on the saga, titled: VBS, A Dream Defrauded.

Van Rensburg and fellow investigative journalist Sipho Masondo at City Press broke the story of the VBS Bank fraud, which exposed influence of politicians in the manoeuvres that saw municipalities illegally depositing up to R3.5 billion to the mutual bank before a large sum of that money was brazenly looted until the bank collapsed.

Speaking during a webinar at the Cape Town Press Club on his book, Van Rensburg said the biggest problem for the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) and the Hawks would be in the following of the money, as some of it was distributed clandestinely.

“A lot of it was cash. Like there is an instance where a R5 million cash was withdrawn at the Makhado branch of VBS and taken over the counter,” he said.

Van Rensburg said the money theft was reported to one of the VBS board members by an alarmed cashier, Public Investment Corporation official Ernest Nesane, not knowing that Nesane was among a string of people who were allegedly paid millions of rand in bribes by the VBS to either buy their influence or silence in the fraud that eventually plunged the bank into insolvency and liquidation.

“If people within the line of accountability are bought, as much as you can raise the flag, it ends up in a dead end,” he said.

Van Rensburg said there were also other highly suspicious ways in which the money moved through money laundering.

This included the payments of perfectly round numbers being paid to companies at regular intervals despite the companies not appearing to be having a business purpose.

He said while it was apparent that the EFF took part in the VBS looting, its role was minimal compared with the ANC and its figures.

“I make this point in the book that the EFF had a small role relatively in the VBS. It was almost exclusively ANC deployees and politicians against whom there is any kind of compelling evidence. All we can show to this effect is that money, about R16 million was paid to Brian Shivambu, the brother of Floyd Shivambu, and that it was not legitimate in the sense that it was tied to any kind of loan or agreement at all,” he said.

He said the money then went from Brian’s account to the EFF in the form of donations and to his brother Floyd.

“One can speculate as to why the EFF found favour at VBS. It is obviously the ANC who control the money, but you must understand that the Limpopo is an EFF stronghold. At municipal level it is the province where the EFF got by far the largest proportion of votes and in the specific municipalities that invested in VBS it had sway and a fair amount of seats in council,” he said.

Van Rensberg said the deposits to the EFF could have been aimed at ensuring political cover.

While many of the VBS executives who were involved in the looting saga had been arrested and the bank’s former chief financial officer Phillip Truter now convicted, only one of municipal official from out of the 20 odd municipalities that invested in VBS has been arrested. | Political Bureau

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