Fong con ‘cheated firm out of R3m’

2011-02-12 18:14

Silver-tongued fraudster Ivan Jabu Maswanganye allegedly conned a Johannesburg-based construction company into spending more than R3 million on a non-existent school-building project.

Maswanganye “borrowed” R320 000 from Siyahlobisa Projects and allegedly made the company pay for expensive trips to Europe.

Now Vusi Mgquba, Siyahlobisa’s CEO, has issued a letter of demand to recover the money from Maswanganye’s Linkfinn Holdings.

Mgquba is also seeking to recover about R2.9 million which he incurred in expenses – including on specialised equipment and trips to Europe – at Maswanganye’s insistence.

Mgquba has written to nearly 200 people and companies that were drawn into the project, which was meant to deliver 800 megaschools nationally, informing them of Maswanganye’s failure to pay and his “disappearance”.

Last week City Press exposed Maswanganye, who was fired by the Mpumalanga government in 2000 for forging his qualifications and jailed for fraud, as being the link man in an R800-million Chinese development at President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home town.

As a result of the City Press investigation, Maswanganye was fired from the project. He attempted to pass himself off as his “twin brother”, Jabu.

In the letter to investors, Mgquba says he was approached by Maswanganye to participate in a massive “department of education” project secured through normal tender procedures and funded by Nedbank, to build 800 megaschools around the country.

He was told that Maswanganye had the deal in place and that Siyahlobisa would do the actual work.

“We were informed by Jabu and his team to involve a sizable number of consulting and construction companies to assist in implementing about 800 schools nationally. Our role was that of an implementing agent whose responsibility was to design, put together bid documents, go to tender and adjudicate. In the process, Linkfinn had a ‘cashflow crisis’ and they borrowed from us R300 000, which we gave to them without hesitation,” Mgquba said.

However, the project came no closer to fruition and Mgquba was told the department would consider the deal only in March.

Basic education department spokesperson Granville Whittle said the project does not exist.

Late last year, Mgquba says, Maswanganye “disappeared” and failed to respond to calls and text messages.

On Friday Maswanganye refused to speak to City Press, saying: “You will hear from me before tomorrow.”

A short while later, Witbank-based lawyer Nathi Ngema called to say he was representing Maswanganye and that they were considering launching an urgent application against City Press.

Ngema declined to comment on the Siyahlobisa matter, saying that he had been retained only “very recently”.

Maswanganye has been given until Friday to repay the money or face legal action.

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