Mpisane wants her assets back after state drops 53 charges

2014-01-16 00:00

SHAUWN Mpisane walked out of the Durban Commercial Crime Court yesterday a free woman after the state withdrew 53 charges of fraud and forgery against her.

But her assets — valued at R70 million including R28 million in cash — have not been released and may still remain in the custody of the Asset Fortifiture Unit (AFU).

NPA spokesperson Natasha Ramkisson said the case was withdrawn because the forensic investigations were incomplete.

Shauwn and her husband S’bu left the court building and entered their white Rolls Royce, parked outside the court entrance.

Mpisane said she was “relieved”. The case was brought after she allegedly used forged documents to secure a Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) grading in order to secure tenders valued at about R140 million from provincial government departments. She was arrested early last year.

The assets seized by the AFU included luxury cars, houses and cash. The vehicles were returned last year.

Curator of the assets Trevor White, a director at accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers, said he has yet to receive any instruction to release the assets.

“There is a high court order that needs to be rescinded for the assets to be released back to Mpisane. Although this may be a technical matter, the state may want to hold onto them if they expect to recharge her,” said White.

Last Friday, Mpisane’s lawyer Shaukat Karim received a letter from state prosecutor Wendy O’Brien asking them to appear in court yesterday so that the state could withdraw the charges.

She now faces one more hurdle in her bid to have the state’s series of corruption cases set aside. On January 29, she will hear whether her representations to the national director of public prosecutions to have another case — in which she allegedly inflated her VAT expenditure to secure a fraudulent refund of R4,7 million — set aside, are successful.

SARS has also subsequently issued Mpi­sane with a tax compliance certificate, sparking speculation that the state’s case against her and her company has collapsed.

Karim said while the state could in theory reopen the case, it was “highly unlikely” as they had been unable to “get their ducks in a row”.

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