Picture: Pixabay
Kimberley - A Russian second hand jeweller is in the process of trying to reclaim two kilogrammes of 99 percent fine gold and R4 million in cash that were seized from him, during a SAPS roadblock on the N1 road near Colesberg last year. The confiscated items are now the subject of a criminal investigation.

A black bag containing the money was found in the boot of a blue Polo Volkswagen with a GP registration, which was travelling from Cape Town to Johannesburg.

The money as well as a white envelope containing two kilogrammes of gold were confiscated at the Colesberg police station on November 29 2017.

According to a Hawks investigation into charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering, the money in the jewellery register of Oditrim (Pty) Ltd was, “far more” than the money that was paid for the second hand goods.

Oditrim, that deals in second hand jewellery, has branches in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria and trades in scrap precious metals including silver, gold and platinum that is sold to a refinery.

The company indicated that it dealt exclusively with Cape Precious Metals (CPM) refinery, as it was prepared to deal in cash.

The report into the business operations of the branches, based on an analysis of all registers and receipt books, is expected to be released this month.

The matter was postponed in the Northern Cape High Court last week after the court dismissed an application for the matter to be heard on an urgent basis on December 22 2017.

In court documents, Lieutenant Colonel Mthandeni Vincent Zuma, employed at SAPS litigation and legal services, indicated that they were busy finalising the investigation that was at “a very crucial point”.

“The seized goods cannot at this stage be returned. The SAPS should be allowed to retain possession of the goods pending the outcome of the investigation.”

The state alleges that the goods that were confiscated, were stolen and that no proper records were kept of the transactions in accordance with the terms of the Second Hand Goods Act, where the second hand precious metals that were refined by CPM to make the transactions appear to be legitimate, amounted to money laundering.

The preliminary investigation into the business operations had revealed that the registers and receipt books of the applicant were not being maintained as required by the Second Hand Goods Act of 2009, whereby the quantities of second hand precious metal recorded in the registers of the business did not match with the quantities that were handed in to Cape Precious Metals (CPM) refinery.

Zuma said the police investigation revealed that the information provided by the company on the day of the seizure “did not add up to the registers provided”.

He added that the R4 million that was paid by CPM for refined gold had to be verified as the value paid in relation to the refined gold weighed about five to seven kilogrammes.

During the seizure operation, the weight that was disclosed by the company did not correspond with the refined gold confiscated by the Hawks.

Zuma stated that the refined gold, derived from the precious metal, would be less than five to seven kilograms and could not possibly amount to R4 million.

“The SAPS suspect that the goods seized were used and will be used again in future in the commission or suspected commission of an offence that could be prosecuted under the Criminal Procedures Act or the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.”

Zuma denied that the investigation was a “fishing expedition” and stated that all the correct procedures were followed.

He also dismissed any promises that were made to return the confiscated goods and stated that any confirmation proving the legitimacy of the transactions had yet to be verified.

Managing director of Oditrim (Pty) Ltd, Vladislav Ryvkine, explained that due to the fluctuation in the gold price, he had decided not to sell when Oditrim made a delivery to CPM’s Cape Town branch, on November 25 2016.

“I requested CPM to keep it with them until the price increased. On June 27 2017, I requested CPM to refine it. I collected the refined gold in granular form from CPM in Cape Town on July 1 2017. Oditrim was requested by CPM to deliver the two kilogrammes of fine gold on November 22 2017, due to a shortage experienced by CPM’s branch in Germiston.

“On November 28 I collected the two kilogrammes of fine gold from CPM’s Cape Town branch. The total value of the goods amounted to R4,1 million.”

He calculated that the amount paid by Oditrim to the CPM Germiston branch on November 23 2017, was for about R1 million for scrap gold, while an approximate R3 million was delivered to CPM’s Cape Town branch on the same day.

Ryvkine stated that R4 million in cash was collected from the depot of SBV Services (Pty) Ltd that provided cash services, in denominations of R200 notes in individual packets of R40 000 each.

“Each individual packet was sealed with a blue SBV label. Each R40 000 plastic bag was placed in a transparent plastic bag. In total the R4 million in cash were packed in 20 separate plastic bags containing R200 000 each. The balance of R118 171.85 was paid electronically into the bank account of Oditrim on November 30.”

He said all the transactions of the scrap gold were properly recorded in the registers.

“On the afternoon of November 28 2017 I left Cape Town en route to Johannesburg. The R4 million and gold I received from CPM were in the boot of the car, in a black BMW touring bag.

“In refined form, two kilogrammes of refined gold were seized by the police on November 28 2017. In respect of the gold and money seized by SAPS on November 28 and 29 2017, full details have been furnished. There is thus no need whatsoever to investigate the legitimacy pertaining to the gold and money seized.”

Ryvkine indicated that he had produced the receipt for the cash and the purchase notes for the gold when he was stopped by the SAPS in Colesberg the following day.

“I told the police officer that the transaction was legal and I explained that the payment was legitimate.”

He stated that the search was conducted without a search warrant and without probable cause.

He added that SAPS had yet to determine whether the transactions pertaining to the gold and money seized were “legitimate and beyond doubt”.

“Further investigation is therefore necessary.”

He pointed out that he was nonetheless handcuffed and transported to the Colesberg police station and placed in a holding cell.

“I was taken to the Colesberg hospital or clinic after experiencing a severe attack of anxiety and claustrophobia.” Ryvkanie added that he was released on December 1 2017 after the transactions were verified with CPM.

“I do not believe that my arrest and confiscation of Oditrim’s property had any reasonable grounds to suspect that the money and gold were involved in the commission of any offence or suspected offence.”

He stated that despite promises that the police would return the gold and money to Oditrim, this had never occurred.

“The seizure and continued retention of Oditrim’s property is illegal. As a result the company is unable to trade and unable to fulfill its financial obligations towards employees and suppliers. Should the gold and money not be returned, it will undoubtedly lead to the liquidation of Oditrim, the detriment of its employees, their families as well as myself and my wife, a co-director.”

He stated that the value of the company’s property that was seized amounted to R6 million.

“The amount is not trivial.”

The matter was postponed until May 25.

Diamond Fields Advertiser