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R111m Covid-19 relief fund allegedly stolen by businessman to be returned to UIF

The R111 million allegedly stolen from the Covid-19 relief fund by Hammanskraal businessman Thabo Abel Simbini is to be returned to the UIF. Picture: File

The R111 million allegedly stolen from the Covid-19 relief fund by Hammanskraal businessman Thabo Abel Simbini is to be returned to the UIF. Picture: File

Published Dec 9, 2021

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Pretoria - The R111 million allegedly stolen from the UIF’s Covid-19 relief fund by Hammanskraal businessman Thabo Abel Simbini is now in the State’s coffers.

It is due to be handed back to the UIF after it was forfeited to the State this week.

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The National Prosecuting Authority’s Asset Forfeiture Unit finally obtained a forfeiture order in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria.

This follows a successful preservation of property order obtained from the court in November last year in terms of the provisions of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

This relates to property that is believed to be the proceeds of unlawful activities of fraud, theft and money laundering.

An amount of R111m that was intended for the relief fund and individual claims not related to Covid-19 was allegedly fraudulently paid into Impossible Services Pty Ltd’s FNB account belonging to Simbini.

After the funds were paid into this account, Simbini apparently transferred the money to several other FNB accounts.

The Financial Intelligence Centre issued intervention notices to the various banking institutions to temporarily “freeze” the funds implicated in the actions of Impossible Services Pty Ltd in order to assist law enforcement agencies with their process of possible recovery.

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Pretoria NPA spokesperson Lumka Mahanjana said this resulted in the Assets Forfeiture Unit successfully obtaining the preservation order.

“The success of the application is directly related to the productive and professional working relationship that exists in the Fusion Centre between the Financial Intelligence Centre, Hawks and other law enforcement agencies, as well as the Asset Forfeiture Unit,” she said.

Simbini is facing charges of corruption after he allegedly tried to bribe the UIF official for the release of the stolen funds.

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It is claimed he paid the UIF official a bribe of R10 000 and was arrested on a sting operation by members of the Hawks.

He will again appear in the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crime Court on February 1.

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