Crime Intelligence slush fund: two in court

2012-12-11 14:37

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Two Crime Intelligence top cops with links to controversial former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli have been charged with defrauding the Secret Service Account of R1.2 million.

Major-General Solly Lazarus, chief financial officer of the Secret Service Account, and Colonel Heine Barnard, were charged with theft, fraud and two counts of corruption each in the Lyttleton Police Station in Centurion this morning.

They appeared in the Pretoria Magistrates’ Court and were each released on R10 000 bail.

While state prosecutor Advocate Gerrie Nel said the charges were not linked to Mdluli, the charges are linked to the same secret account that has caused a stir within crime intelligence circles and was allegedly used by Mdluli to buy cars for his relatives.

Lazarus and Barnard are Mdluli’s confidants.

Similar charges of plundering the Secret Service Account were mysteriously withdrawn by the National Prosecuting Authority earlier this year.

According to the charge sheet, Lazarus and Barnard personally benefited to tune of R1.14 million through a car dealership in Centurion which they allegedly used to buy luxury cars and goods for themselves.

The SAPS created a front company called Universal Technical Enterprises which was operated to purchase covert vehicles to be used in undercover projects and investigations.

UTE – a police front company – was established in 1988 by the security branch and used by its bomb-making unit to buy equipment to target anti-apartheid activists.

Before the charges against Mdluli were withdrawn the Hawks had uncovered that crime intelligence allegedly used UTE as a front to buy luxury vehicles for Mdluli and his family to cover their debts and pay for private flights.

According to the charge sheet, the front company appointed Atlantis Motors as a service provider for the purposes of buying cars by crime intelligence.

Lazarus allegedly approved all car purchases from Atlantis.

The Hawks allege that Lazarus struck an agreement with Jan Venter, from Atlantis, where the latter would create a special account where money would be deposited from legal transactions to buy crime intelligence vehicles and it is alleged that the money was “exclusively” used by Lazarus.

It is alleged that Lazarus and Barnard used this special account to buy cars and then sell them while they also bought cars for their relatives.

It is also alleged that crime intelligence ended up paying more for the cars to be used by the unit.

They have been charged with contravening Section 4 (1) and Sections 10 (a) of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.

They have been accused of stealing R1.14 million from the Secret Service Account through Atlantis between 2006 and last year.

“During the period 2006 to December 2011 near Pretoria ... the accused wrongfully, unlawfully, directly or indirectly accepted or agreed or offered to accept gratification worth R1.144 086.23,” says the charge sheet.

The Hawks allege that the two abused their position of authority, breached the trust and violated their legal duty.

The charges carry sentences of between 15 and 25 years each.

They were each released on bail of R10 000 and were given strict bail conditions including that they cannot contact staff at Atlantis, leave the country or intimidate witnesses.

The case was postponed to February next year.

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