The double life of a top SA spy

2011-07-09 16:59

A senior National Intelligence Agency (NIA) official masqueraded as a representative of President Jacob Zuma in a bid to have millions in foreign funding deposited into his account.

“Dr” Andre Vorster, who has been a full-time employee at the NIA since 1992, leads an incredible double life.

Vorster confirmed he was a specialist technical adviser at NIA headquarters in Pretoria, had a top secret security clearance and worked on sensitive projects.

But despite his full-time employment at the NIA, Vorster also set up a law firm in 2005, appointed directors – among them an MP – and started dispensing legal advice from his corporate headquarters in Meyerspark, Pretoria.

He claimed to have two doctorates, but they appear to be fake. Vorster is also the director of 10 other companies and recently opened an office of his law firm, Alberts Bekker Vorster Pillay Inc – known as ABVP Law – in the UK.

NIA spokesperson Brian Dube said the agency had launched an investigation into Vorster’s conduct, but would not comment any further.

City Press has evidence that Vorster attempted to raise humanitarian grants worth millions of rands from a leading foundation in the UK.

Dr (Sir) Edward Cooper, a representative of the Fundacion Donaciones Humanitarias, said Vorster met him in London at the end of 2009 and claimed to be acting on behalf of Zuma and the South African government.

At the time, Cooper was the head of another organisation called the Pureheart Foundation.

“He wanted me to pay many millions into his trust account,” Cooper said this week, “but I smelt a rat and wouldn’t deal with him.”

Vorster told him ABVP Law was engaged in upliftment and development projects throughout South Africa and was in a perfect position to secure grants on behalf of the South African government.

City Press has correspondence Vorster sent to Cooper in February last year in which he claimed ABVP Law was acting as legal advisers and project managers for projects worth R11 billion.

“I had no reason to doubt his credentials and he seemed to know what he was talking about,” Cooper said. “He said he acted for Jacob Zuma and I also had no reason to doubt that.”

Vorster admitted this week he had met Cooper to secure humanitarian aid and claimed he was acting on behalf of a client who “had access to the legal advisors of the president”.

“I can show you the papers and I did nothing wrong,” he said.

Asked whether he had permission from the NIA to travel abroad and meet Cooper, Vorster said that whenever he went overseas on official business, he took the opportunity to see clients.

In another letter to Cooper, Vorster named National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel, Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan as part of the fundraising project.

Cooper said he met Vorster through a mutual friend.

“We had lunch and he said he could introduce me to Zuma and was acting on his behalf,” said Cooper.

Cooper said he was suspicious when Vorster wanted him to pay donations into his trust account.

“I said that we don’t do that and then suddenly his interest dried up. I wouldn’t deal with him any longer and sent him a letter of termination,” he said.

Manuel’s spokesperson, Dumisa Jele, said neither the presidency nor Manuel had commissioned or assigned Vorster or any of his clients to do fundraising for them.

“The reference to his (Manuel’s) name is deeply misplaced and bears no truth,” said Jele.

City Press has established that Vorster does not have permission from the NIA to do private work.

It is illegal for an intelligence official to do outside work or have business interests without permission and he can be criminally charged under the Intelligence Act.

Vorster has travelled extensively abroad on ABVP business and has also opened bank accounts, one of them at Société Générale in the UK.

ABVP director and Freedom Front Plus Member of Parliament Anton Alberts said he was “shocked and perturbed” to hear Vorster was an NIA employee.

“I thought ABVP was his main employment. If it is true that he works at National Intelligence and is lying about his degrees I will immediately resign,” said Alberts, who is the FF Plus’s spokesperson on labour.

Vorster said his functions at the NIA included counter-surveillance, the safeguarding of South African embassies and key installations such as the Reserve Bank, strategic and corporate planning, and even providing legal advice to NIA top management.

The 44-year-old Vorster joined the NIA in 1994 after working for arms manufacturer Kentron.

He said he had been stationed abroad for more than three years and had visited 54 countries.

One of the directorships that Vorster holds is in a company that manufactures gambling equipment and on his CV he says he is the technology and legal adviser for the Intesol group of companies.

In Intesol documentation, Vorster is described as a professional electronics engineer at the Department of Foreign Affairs who works on “sensitive government projects”.

Vorster claimed the NIA was also aware of Intesol.

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