Tribunal set to recoup R15bn lost through graft, fraud
Johannesburg - The special tribunal established by President Cyril Ramaphosa will be empowered to go after the R15billion lost through corruption, fraud and illicit money flows, and seize property obtained unlawfully in South Africa and abroad.
The tribunal became operational on October 1, and its president, Judge Mlindelwa Makhanya, will be able to freeze assets, monies and grant preservation, restraint and forfeiture orders.
“At the conclusion of the proceedings depending on the outcomes of the unlawful activities of the respondent or the defendant, the tribunal shall make a final order for forfeiture to the state of the property held under a restraint order or property preservation order where a respondent has been found to have partaken in unlawful activities,” read the tribunal’s rules issued by Judge Makhanya.
According to the rules, its work will not be stalled and delayed by parties who fail to submit their responses to allegations, and the tribunal will be able to issue default judgments.
Interested parties, including the Special Investigative Unit, will also be allowed to seek restraint orders prohibiting implicated persons from dealing in any manner with any property to which the order relates.
A restraint order may affect realisable property held within or outside South Africa’s territory, even if the property has been transferred after the order was made. Restraint and preservation orders for property outside the country will prohibit the removal and/or disposal of the implicated asset(s) before finalisation of proceedings against the person involved.
Letters of request will be issued to the foreign country in which the property is in terms of the International Co-operation in Criminal Matters Act, asking autorities there to assist in enforcing the tribunal’s order through the Justice Department director-general, Vusi Madonsela.
Ramaphosa also appointed additional tribunal members - judges Icantharuby Pillay, Johannes Eksteen, Peter Mothle, Lebogang Modiba, Thina Siwendu, David van Zyl and Siraj Desai - to assist Makhanya.
National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi last week told Parliament’s portfolio committee on justice and correctional services that India and the United Arab Emirates had not been forthcoming in finalising mutual legal assistance agreements to allow the National Prosecuting Authority to extradite the Guptas.
Last month, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola announced that the tribunal had cases ready for adjudication and recovery of assets to the value of R14.7bn.
The tribunal will sit at the Booysens Magistrate’s Court in Johannesburg, but Judge Makhanya is allowed to schedule its hearings at any high or magistrate’s court in the country.