SABC inquiry chair accused of soliciting bribe

2017-02-19 06:00
(File, iStock)

(File, iStock)

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Johannesburg - Vincent Smith, chairperson of the ad hoc committee investigating the fitness of the SABC board to hold office, is accused of soliciting a bribe from a businessman to fund his daughter’s university fees in return for his political support.

In a sworn statement, Geoff Greyling, chief executive officer of SA Security Solutions & Technology (Sasstec), accuses Smith of being behind a National Treasury investigation into whether Sasstec’s subsidiary, Integritron Integrated Solutions (IIS), was fraudulently awarded a R400m tender by the department of correctional services.

In the affidavit, Greyling alleges Smith solicited a down payment of £10 500 (R180 000) to be paid into a UK university’s account for his daughter as a gesture of “good faith”.

A further R5m was to be paid throughout the duration of the tender, Greyling alleges, adding that when he did not pay, Smith threatened to have his tender cancelled.

This, Greyling claims, happened in July 2015. When Greyling didn’t pay, Smith allegedly wrote to Treasury, which began its investigation three months later.

Greyling submitted a document bearing the account details of Aberystwyth University where Smith’s daughter studied, as well as the student number he claims Smith gave him in July 2015.

But Smith said this week the allegations were false and that he condemned them “with the contempt they deserved”.

“This is just to deflect [attention] from its court battles and has no substance at all.

"I have never communicated with any official of Sasstec, other than receiving an email from a lawyer representing them. I immediately advised the lawyer to communicate with the committee and not directly with me, as it was inappropriate,” he said.

The Treasury investigation into Sasstec found irregularities in the way the prisons contract was awarded; that the company lacked the capacity and ability to execute the contract; and the existence of a “fronting relationship” between the main contractor and subcontractor.

“The accounting officer and members of the bid committee failed to comply with certain provisions of the Public Finance Management Act, Treasury regulations, instruction notes and preferential procurement regulations,” the report found.

It recommended the contract be cancelled, that IIS and its associates be restricted from conducting business with government, and that disciplinary charges be investigated against members of the bid committees and the accounting officers.

Sasstec went to court to interdict the report’s implementation, claiming it was not given the opportunity to state its case to Treasury before the report was finalised.

Greyling has now laid criminal charges against Smith, which Hawks spokesperson, Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, confirmed were being investigated.

Smith denied promising Greyling’s company any political support, saying he did not know what “political support a member of Parliament can possibly provide”, as tender adjudication was an “internal departmental matter”.

Smith said it was easy to prove whether any deposits were made into his daughter’s account, and that he did his job as MP and committee chairperson to ensure all irregularities in Auditor-General reports were interrogated.

Sasstec’s owners include Greyling, his family, politically connected businessman Moya Nape and former home affairs chief IT director, Patrick Monyeki.

In his affidavit, Greyling also accuses Treasury’s chief director for governance monitoring and compliance, Solly Tshitangano, and his former business partner, Ryan Bettridge, of collusion during the Treasury investigation.

He alleges that Bettridge, a former Sasstec executive, facilitated the bribe on Smith’s behalf, which led to the breakdown of trust between them and to Bettridge’s resignation.

Bettridge strongly denies this, saying he was not told about the allegations or the Hawks investigation, and that it was strange he was being accused of extortion.

“How could I extort myself given that I was a shareholder of Sasstec, where I resigned after witnessing gross negligence and nefarious acts with regards to government contracts?” he asked.

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