‘No cover-up at Land Bank’

2007-12-07 00:00

Cape Town — Cabinet spokesman Themba Maseko has denied speculation of a cover-up following the cabinet’s move to reverse the decision to refer a forensic report, on the financial affairs of the Land Bank, to the South African Police Service.

Maseko said yesterday that the decision to refer the report to the authorities has been rescinded pending further internal investigations by the Agriculture and Land Affairs ministry.

Briefing journalists after the cabinet’s meeting on Wednesday, Maseko said that, as soon as the internal processes are concluded, the matter will be handed over to the police.

The turnaround follows a decision, made by the cabinet last month, to refer the forensic report to the SAPS and the prosecution authorities for further investigations and possible prosecutions.

The report, by Deloitte and Touche, found that money earmarked for land reform was instead used to fund luxury golf estates, a sugar mill and residential developments. This prompted cabinet to call for the Land Bank’s board to be fired and for criminal charges to be brought against top management.

Maseko said members of the bank’s board came forward with new information, which needs to be considered before the matter is handed over to the police.

“Members of the board and senior executives of the bank felt that the audit did not take into account a lot of other information.

“Questions have arisen as to whether some decisions taken by the management of the bank did not have full approval of the board and the Land and Agriculture Department.

“New information is indicating that some decisions were approved by the board, so it is clear that there is some inconsistency between what the board found and the new information coming to the fore.

“The minister of Land and Agriculture has been given the mandate to look at the new information and compile a complete report, which will be available to the police.”

Maseko said that when the internal process is concluded, and the Land Affairs Minister is content that all the issues have been dealt with, the matter will then be handed over to the police.

“However, the internal processes will first be exhausted. The cabinet is saying let us complete the investigation before handing the matter over to the police for further investigation.”

Maseko could not provide details on the new information that has come to the fore, or the names of the board members and senior executives who have come forward with the information.

“We will advise the pubic as soon as a new decision is made,” he said.

Questioned on the decision, Maseko said the government is committed to ensure that all issues highlighted by the forensic report are followed up and dealt with appropriately.

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