VBS execs pulled off SA's 'biggest bank robbery', advocate tells court

VBS Mutual Bank's executives carried out the country's "biggest bank robbery" - and did so in designer suits - an advocate has claimed in the South Gauteng High Court.

Michael Antonie SC, who is legally representing the curator in the VBS matter, made the claim on Tuesday during applications to have executives of the mutual bank provisionally sequestrated.

The application for provisional sequestration is underway for the estate of Robert Madzonga, the mutual bank's previous chief operations officer and the group executive officer of Vele Investments.

Andile Ramavhunga, VBS's chief executive officer, may also be placed under provisional sequestration.

Judgment is yet to be delivered and the matter resumes on Wednesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, provisional sequestration orders were granted against Tshifiwa Matodzi, the former chair of the bank's board of directors and also the director and chair of Vele Investments; as well as Phillip Truter, VBS's chief financial officer; and Phophi Mukhodobwane, VBS’s general head of treasury and capital management.

Vele Investments, VBS’s main shareholder, which allegedly also benefited from alleged fraud carried out by bank executives, was liquidated.

'Robbers' in Armani suits

"This is the biggest bank robbery in South Africa," Antonie claimed, while referring to matters relating to Madzonga.

The only difference was that, instead of carrying firearms and wearing handkerchiefs over their faces, argued Antonie, those involved had worn chic clothing.

"They dressed in Armani suits and had computers," he said.

Antonie argued that Madzonga was "central to the conspiracy" relating to the VBS "fraud saga". Madzonga, dressed sharply in a fitted blue suit, was present during Tuesday's proceedings and appeared relaxed. He smiled at and greeted those around him.

VBS Mutual Bank is at the centre of a massive and ongoing fraud saga.

At least R1.5bn was allegedly looted from the mutual bank, and allegedly used by executives who bought, among other items, luxury vehicles.

VBS was placed under curatorship in March this year. SizweNtsalubaGobodo Advisory Services, represented by Anoosh Rooplal, was appointed to deal with this.

'Absurd' 

Antonie earlier described Ramavhunga’s version of events as "absurd."

Ramavhunga had denied that R15m he was paid in 2017 was a bonus. He said he received the payment after his business, Dambale Holdings, facilitated a deal that saw Matodzi buy another business, Mvunonala Holdings.

Ramavhunga said he had received an introduction and a success fee for this.

But Antonie cast doubt on this claim.

"This is what points to this not being a genuine banker-client relationship. This explanation of Ramavhunga is simply not sustainable," he argued.

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