R1.5bn theft: VBS boss in dark, court told

By Bongani Nkosi Time of article published Aug 2, 2018

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Robert Madzonga, the chief executive of VBS Mutual Bank’s major shareholder, has sought to distance himself from a group that fleeced the bank of R1.5billion.
The South Gauteng High Court yesterday heard arguments for and against sequestering Madzonga’s estate, as part of attempts to recoup money stolen from the bank.

Madzonga owns two properties and five vehicles, including a Lamborghini, an Audi R8, a Rolls-Royce, a Porsche Cayenne and a Porsche 911.

Anoosh Rooplal, curator of the collapsed VBS, wants Madzonga sequestrated along with five other executives of the bank for allegedly living like billionaires by raiding depositors’ money to purchase mansions, sports cars and shares.

Rooplal’s urgent application saw provisional sequestration orders being granted against Tshifhiwa Matodzi, Philip Truter and Phophi Mukhodobwane on Monday.

Madzonga and the bank’s chief executive Andile Ramavhunga were putting up a legal fight against the application.

Yesterday, Judge Moroa Tsoka heard that Madzonga knew “absolutely nothing” about the conspiracy by the bank’s executives to raid money deposited into the bank.

The biggest victims of the fraud were 21 municipalities, community members and businesses in Venda, a burial society as well as the Public Investment Corporation.

Jonathan Blou, senior counsel for Madzonga, told the court his client was not part of the group of executives who conspired to fleece VBS.

Blou said the “fraudulent scheme” to steal from VBS started in 2017, at which time Madzonga was not the chief executive of the bank’s major shareholder, Vele Investments.

Madzonga became chief executive of Vele in October. The investment group, according to Rooplal, received most of the money siphoned from VBS.

While it was common cause that he previously had a stint as chief operations officer at VBS, Blou said “there’s no evidence that the scheme was put in place before he left”.

“The fraudulent scheme occurred from March 2017. By that time, he was the chief operations officer of Vele.

“The question to ask is who was chief executive (of Vele) at that time?” said Blou. “Where is he? Why is he not a respondent (in Rooplal’s application)?”

Madzonga denied knowing that the R4.5million he was given as a promotion fee when he became Vele’s chief executive was from a fictitious account at VBS.

“Let’s assume that he knew it was fictitious; does that make him part of the conspiracy from 2017?” Blou asked.

Blou said his client learnt that the money was stolen only on March 11, during a meeting with Rooplal.

Michael Antonie, senior counsel for Rooplal, told the court that Madzonga’s evidence was laden with contradictions and falsities. “He’s part of the cabal,” said Antonie.

He questioned why Mad- zonga saw fit to take it upon himself to solve VBS’s liquidity crisis.

Madzonga paid R3m of his own money to an account VBS held with FNB, and acquired a further R15m for this account.

Antonie said this was a desperate bid to deflect the attention of the Reserve Bank from the liquidity crisis that was deepening at VBS.

Instead of calling an urgent board meeting about the crisis, Madzonga “took it upon himself to save the bank”, Antonie remarked.

Antonie said the only plausible explanation was that he wanted to avoid the Reserve Bank’s scrutiny.

Judgment was reserved.


The Star

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