Friday , June 25 2021

VBS Bank paid millions for SACP

A former senior executive of the scandalous VBS Mutual Bank has shown that a branch manager was ordered to make a R3 million payment to fund the national congress held by the SA Communist Party (SACP) last year, in exchange for the party's silence on the bank's relationship to the controversial Gupta family.

City Press may disclose that Vele Investments, which is the majority owner of the Bank's soon settled, used one of its subsidiaries to pay the SACP's R3 million bill for use of facilities at the Birchwood Hotel & OR Tambo Conference Center in Boksburg, Ekurhuleni.

Leading executives, who were at the center of the bank's business and have requested anonymity, have told City Press how Vele Investments – VBS parent company – conspired to use a subsidiary account to hide the link to the SACP payment.

The senior executives' revelations are the first to drink the SACP's national office to the VBS saga after it fiercely denied any links to the bank.

The ANC has already acknowledged that it received R2 million from VBS and has undertaken to repay the money.

Senior executives argued this week that a senior official from the SACP demanded a payment of R3 million by former VBS chairman Tshifhiwa Matodzi to stop making "noise" about VBS's relationship with the Gupta family.

In January last year, almost a year after the country's four major banks closed the accounts in connection with Gupta, VBS announced that it followed discussions between the bank's managers.

Months later, the SACP learned that VBS had allowed Gupta entities to open new business accounts.

Senior executives detailed how Matodzi ordered the branch manager to make a R3 million payment one day before the start of the SACP National Congress.

"On July 6, 2017, he [the branch manager] received a WhatsApp message from Matodzi who says he has to pay R3 million for the SACP National Congress.

"Matodzi told him he was pressured by SACP leaders to get that payment for the SACP congress started the following day.

"He received instructions to move R4 million from Vele Investments bank account to MML Food Services bank account.

"From there, R3 million was transferred directly to the Birchwood Hotel & OR Tambo Conference Center bank account with reference to the SACP. This was done to ensure that it can not be tracked."

MML Food Services is a subsidiary of Vele Investments, which was the majority shareholder in VBS. Matodzi, who chaired both VBS and Vele, is the central character of the VBS scandal.

Matodzi and his co-workers have been positively identified as the main recipients of the extensive fraud at VBS.

In the explosive forensic report released by the SA Reserve Bank last month, which was written by lawyer Terry Motau, MML Food Services is mentioned as one of the companies that received an R19 million deposit and a R17.5 million facility from the sister company VBS.

Matodzi declined to comment yesterday and said, "I have no comment on anything that has to do with VBS."

The CEO of MML Food Services, Ronald Letsoalo, and Birchwood Hotel & OR Tambo Conference Center Director Jazzman Mahlakgane ignored repeated requests for comments.

Leading executives also revealed that the system must be programmed to allow R3 million to expire and be immediately available in the next bank.

"We had to pay with RTC [real time clearance]. The intention was to silence SACP leaders from revealing Gupta accounts with VBS, says senior director of City Press.

According to the CEO, a branch manager has the power to pay up to R1 million.

Any amount above which must be approved by the senior executives at the company's office level.

Another insider within VBS said that it was found that the SACP leaders and CEOs agreed that R3 million would be paid to cover the costs of the SACP National Congress.

"This means that it was an earlier arrangement. The delegates at the SACP Congress enjoyed water and food paid by VBS," insider said.

Senior executives said that all transactions made by the branch manager were ordered by Matodzi.

"He would tell the branch manager via WhatsApp or telegram [a secure communications mechanism]: "Pay so much to this account." Everything that the branch manager had paid for was that he received an instruction from Matodzi. "

Senior executives said the branch manager told investigators about the payment made on behalf of the SACP.

"They interviewed him. He told them about the payment he was ordered to do on behalf of the SACP. They omitted mentioning that the SACP was favored by VBS in the report."

However, the SACP national spokeswoman Alex Mashilo denied that the party received money from VBS or Vele Investments.

When asked yesterday about the sponsors of the SACP National Congress last year, Mashilo said: "It is about to be a general fishing question to ask who has ever made a donation to the SACP.

"At its special national congress held in July 2015, the SACP published a financial report for the period going back to its 13th National Congress held in July 2012.

"The report published a number of details, including an assessment of SACP membership fees and fees. It also identified a number of donors, of which the core is trade unions.

"The next financial report, made available at the party's 14th National Congress in July 2017, categorized revenue sources received with respect to all parties' rights."

Mashilo said that the party's record spoke to himself.

"It is utterly unfair to make a sweeping accusation against SACP leaders. The SACP has many leaders. The claim is obviously meaningless
and dismissed with disdain.

"The SACP is on record [as saying] that if any undeniable evidence of corruption involving members' involvement appears in any scenario, the party will take a decisive role against that member, he said.

This week, SACP suspended in Limpopo its provincial secretary and former Capricorn District Municipality Mayor Gilbert Kganyago, whose advice illegally deposited R60 million in VBS when he was responsible.

Mashilo said that the party had been consistently sued against Gupta.

"It is widely known that the SACP has consistently stood and mobilized against Gupta's catch of state authorities in particular and catching the state in general. The party will not end, but will only deepen it," Mashilo said.

Matodzi, along with his associates and his friend Robert Madzonga, is accused of facilitating the robbery of almost R2 billion at VBS.

ANC leaders, especially ANC Limpopo vice president and Vhembe District Municipality mayor Florence Radzilani and treasurer Danny Msiza were also involved in the Motau report in the VBS scandal.

Radzilani is mentioned in the Motau report as he complained that she "only" received R300,000 to ensure that millions of deposits of Vhembe District Municipality to VBS were not withdrawn.

Radzilani wrote to ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule last week to deny involvement in VBS investment.

Msiza challenges the report in court.


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