Former owner of Asset Movement Financial Services (AMFS), Kalandra Viljoen, was grilled on why her company operated as a bank, despite not being registered as required by law, including receiving millions of rand through electronic transfers on behalf of its clients, which it in turn delivered in stacks of cash in unmarked vehicles.
Viljoen’s cash-in-transit business, which handled more than R500million between 2015 and 2017, was flagged by evidence leader advocate Kate Hofmeyr for not complying with the Banks Act and the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (Fica); it had potentially been used to launder public funds.
“What we have established through this evidence is that there was an operation carrying at its peak more than half a billion rand of funds, and if this commission is to have some chance of establishing where some of the public funds we know were unlawfully obtained ended up, it may well be that these types of entities need to be investigated further,” Hofmeyr said.
Viljoen’s grilling came after the commission heard how a little-known North West enterprise, Koreneka Trading and Projects, was paid around R51m for aviation ground-handling services at Mafikeng and Pilanesberg airports.
Of this amount, R20m came from the provincial government while R31m came from SA Express airline, which had secured a dodgy deal to operate the two airports.
Koreneka’s sole director, Babadi Tlatsana, previously testified how she was told the money deposited to her had to reach many beneficiaries, including former Transport minister Dipuo Peters, former Public Enterprises minister Lynne Brown and former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo.
On Monday the commission heard how almost R9m was transferred from Koreneka to AMFS before it was delivered in cash for Johannesburg businessman George Markides in Bedfordview.
When asked by Hofmeyr if she made sure to comply with Fica regulations relating to money laundering in the operation of AMFS, Viljoen could only say: “Yes, I tried my best.”
Hofmeyr told the commission that AMFS was not allowed by law to receive transferred funds and convert them into cash without being registered in terms of the Banks Act.
“What is peculiar about the traditional cash-in-transit business is that there is no deposit into the account of the cash-in-transit business. It goes and it literally moves money between a client and its bank physically. It takes those hard notes and coins from location A to location B or the reverse,” she said.
“The act goes further and makes it clear that conducting the business of a bank without registration is a criminal offence,” she said.
The AMFS and Markides have previously been implicated in the stealing of funds from the Small and Medium Enterprises Bank in Namibia through similar money-laundering exercises.
Viljoen accused Markides of misleading her about the source of the funds he received through AMFS.