Estate agency board slammed in report

2011-09-03 10:12

A shocking tale of mismanagement, neglect of duty and misuse of funds has taken place at the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) during the past six years.

A forensic inquiry called for by the board found that Nomonde Mapetla, the dismissed head of the EAAB, allegedly benefited herself during her term of office and permitted the administration of the board to collapse.

Her contract was terminated prematurely on February 28 this year as a result of alleged irregularities, with the proviso that she would receive her full salary up to July 15, when her contract would have ended.

After her dismissal, the EAAB members asked Deloitte Risk Advisory to investigate the allegations that she had acted improperly.

The findings of Deloitte’s final report, which was handed over to the EAAB on August 19, show that Mapetla violated the EAAB’s rules and regulations, and displayed a lack of transparent leadership.

City Press had access to this document this week, though it has not been made public yet.

Role players in the industry say it is in the public interest for the report to be made available in due course.

In the report, Deloitte makes it very clear that Mapetla refused to give cooperation in the inquiry.

“As a result, we are issuing this report based on the evidence available to us and without the benefit of her input in respect of the allegations and the evidence collated,” the report reads.

Deloitte’s inquiry was hampered by several obstacles, including the persistent refusal of the staff of the board to provide the investigation team with requested documentation.

A further obstacle was the confusion over the CEO’s laptop computers.

The computer handed over to the investigation team was not the original computer that was issued to her and access to a second laptop, which she was using at the time when she left the board, was never obtained.

Deloitte confirms that no documents and records could be found of her academic and professional qualifications as stipulated on her 2004 employment contract.

Thousands of estate agents throughout the country had to operate without their fidelity fund certificates, their “licence” to work as estate agents in terms of the Estate Agency Affairs Act.

The investigation team could not find convincing statistics of the number of fidelity fund certificates issued by the agency between 2007 and this year.

But hundreds of certificates that were never posted to the agents were found in a store room at the EAAB’s head office in Hyde Park.

Deloitte found that the board’s legal and compliance department, which was responsible for issuing the certificates, had to make do without proper guidance from management.

It was found that Mapetla was guilty of wasteful expenditure and did not follow the estate agency’s travel policy.

According to the report, local travel expenses of R116385 and international travel expenses of R205 013 did not comply with the guidelines of the board’s travel policy.

She also apparently misused a First National Bank corporate credit card in that she failed to obtain the required approval from the board for the card and failed to inform the board about it.

She allegedly used unauthorised EAAB funds to pay for her credit card expenses.

The report states that there seems to be evidence of alleged fraud of R88 963 involved in the use of the credit card.

Mapetla was initially appointed for three years, after which she was paid on a monthly basis for eight months until her contract was renewed for a further three years.

Deloitte could find no evidence of the board having approved her services on a monthly basis or of renewing her three-year contract.

The inquiry found that some of the accusations against her were unfounded.

No evidence could be found of an alleged payment of R400 000 to a staff member, nor of a payment of R10 000 to her husband.

The allegation that she deliberately inflated the yearly statistics of the fidelity fund certificates was also “unfounded”.

Mapetla turned to the ANC

Sacked Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) head Nomonde Mapetla previously turned to the ANC for help in what she believed was a personal persecution.

In April, she wrote to the party, asking for a criminal investigation by the Hawks into her and the board.

This came after the Johannesburg High Court dismissed her application to be reinstated.

“I am writing to you as a lifetime member of the ANC?.?.?.?I am concerned by the false accusations against me by the new board of the Estate Agency Affairs Board,” Mapetla wrote.

According to an article in Business Report, in the letter she expressed her concerns about the objectivity of forensic investigators hired by the EAAB.

She mentioned auditing firms Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers in her letter.

“While I am comfortable to have a forensic audit conducted even after I’ve been dismissed, I request that it be done properly through a transparent and fair process, which is not influenced.

“The president has called for zero tolerance of crime and corruption, and when I respond to his call and act against corruption, I get unlawfully suspended and dismissed from my job, and aspersions are cast on my integrity in the media.

“Is this the justice that so many died for in our country?” she asked.

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