File picture: Jason Boud/ANA

Johannesburg - As more victims of the alleged Electio R500 million fraud scheme come forward, Nedbank has denied claims that it is unaware of allegations it may have been complicit or negligent in facilitating the company’s dodgy payments.

Last week the Saturday Star revealed a joint probe between the Hawks and IRS Forensic Investigations into Global Electio Investments, a rare metals investment firm, was at a critical juncture. It is alleged the company had promised massive growth rates on investments into metals used in various products, the metals housed supposedly in Dubai.

But after years of failing to pay out its hundreds of clients countrywide, the firm shut its doors last year.

Thirty of its clients launched fraud charges against Electio, its directors and employees. Now more have come forward and are trying to join the probe as complainants.

Gilad Cohen, a Joburg attorney, said he had spoken with at least three dozen of Electio's clients, and was now representing five of them as they intend submitting their cases to the Hawks.

Read: Metals investment was a steal

While Cohen was unsure whether the company had assets to be seized, which could be used for his clients to recoup their investments, IRS said the company’s bank accounts had been frozen and there was still hope.

IRS senior forensic investigator Chad Thomas told the Saturday Star he believed that Nedbank had apparently been used as a “clearing house” for funds, which then landed up in a bank account in the Caribbean.

However, he said it was surprising that the Financial Intelligence Centre had not been alerted by Nedbank to suspicious transactions involving the alleged transfers to a foreign bank.

The bank has claimed it was unaware of any alleged negligence in red-flagging the transactions. In a written statement, the bank said it had an obligation to report suspicious transactions, “which is applied to all clients”.

But the statement claimed it was unaware of any negligence, and that it would co-operate in the event of an investigation.

Questions about an internal probe into Electio’s Nedbank accounts and a complaint against the bank by a client were ignored.

According to Kathy Sehannie, when she discovered her R1m had allegedly been stolen by Electio in 2016, she immediately contacted Nedbank to assist her.

She claimed the bank informed her a probe was already under way but the bank’s representatives eventually turned her away, saying she could not be helped.

She then lodged a complaint with the banking ombudsman and the SA Reserve Bank.

Saturday Star