The National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) this week successfully applied for an order to forfeit the money held in a Nedbank account to the State in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria.
Deputy director of public prosecutions Priyadarshnee Biseswar said in papers before the court that it was believed the amount in the account was proceeds from criminal activities.
The State earlier obtained an order to preserve the money, and the sheriff tried to serve the order on the holder of the account Thulisile Masilela and the company, Agape Hope Logistics, at an address given in Milnerton in the Western Cape.
The sheriff was, however, unable to locate the given address.
A financial investigator at the NDPP’s office found an alternative address in Midrand, but the property was empty when the sheriff tried to serve it there.
He then stuck it to a door, but no one appeared this week in court to oppose the application.
Biseswar explained to the court that the bank account was opened in September 2017. On this day, Emma Bancgo from America instructed the bank there to deposit $100 000 (R1.3m) into the account. The money was described as “family support”.
The transfer failed. She then made a second successful attempt, this time describing the nature of the transfer as “business maintenance”. The following day, R1.3m was deposited into the account.
On the same day, Masilela withdrew R250 000 in cash from the account. The following day she instructed the bank to deposit R800 000 to a Kehinde Lawal.
Lawal, also a Nigerian citizen, had been linked to matters which were previously investigated by the bank.
A bank investigator, meanwhile, contacted Masilela and questioned her about the transaction. She said she met Bancgo in South Africa and they had business connections.
When questioned, Bancgo said she had never been to South Africa and knew nothing about the transaction.
Further investigations led to 50 suspicious cross-border payments amounting to millions, which had been made. The money was received from sources in Canada, America and England.
An investigation in this regard is still ongoing.
The court was told that there was reason to believe that all these parties involved operated as a syndicate to perpetrate advance fee fraud schemes, known as 419 scams.