Asset Forfeiture Unit swoop on Northdale home of Richmond CFO

2018-12-11 15:30
Members of the Asset Forfeiture Unit raided the Pietermaritzburg home of Richmond CFO, Sanjay Mewalall on Monday.

Members of the Asset Forfeiture Unit raided the Pietermaritzburg home of Richmond CFO, Sanjay Mewalall on Monday. (Ian Carbutt)

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It was bad news for a Pietermaritzburg couple on Monday when the Asset Forfeiture Unit swooped on them and seized their luxury house and 16 vehicles, mostly Toyota Corollas.

Sanjay Mewalall, the chief financial officer of the Richmond Municipality and his wife Leanne were caught off guard when members of the unit swarmed their Northdale home early in the morning.

It is alleged that the couple obtained their assets through the proceeds of crime. The assets of their alleged accomplices, Sindhu Bhoga, Seema Maniram and the companies MKT Services (belonging to Bhoga) and Thistle Group (belonging to Leanne) have also been frozen under a court order.

The four people and two companies are charged with having defrauded the municipality of about R2 million. They all have been charged in the Durban commercial crimes court where the case is pending.

Monday’s happenings follows a secretive application brought before the city’s high court last month.

A director of public prosecutions, Kenneth Samuel, referred to affidavits made by the financial investigator in this case, Akbar Ally and the criminal investigator Bradley Swift.

Summing up what they said, Samuel said the arrests follow a probe into fraud and corruption at the Richmond Municipality. Swift received information from the municipal manager, Sibusiso Sithole — who was subsequently killed — relating to fraud and corruption involving the chief financial officer. As a result of Sithole’s death, national treasury appointed KPMG to conduct an investigation into the allegations against Mewalall.

Samuel added that investigations revealed that Mewalall elicited a bribe from the director of a company in return for awarding it the tender.

R100 000 was paid into Bhogal’s bank account and the monies were then paid to Mewalall. However, the tender was awarded to another company, Munsoft.

It is further alleged that Mewalall devised a scheme in which Munsoft inflated its quotation to include sub-contractor fees whereby Bhogal’s company, and a company called SM Bookkeepers owned by Maniram, would receive R250 000 and R450 000 respectively.

Samuel said the appointment of MKT Services as a service provider was irregular because it was not registered on the municipal database.

In addition, the municipality did not adhere to the competitive bidding process applicable to the procurement of services above R200 000 as required.

Samuel said that Mewalall benefited to the tune of R1,4 million; Bhogal and his company, R350 000; Maniram R450 000; Mewalall’s wife Leanne R46 000 and Leanne and her Thistle Group R174 000. He said that the Mewalall couple are married in community of property and their assets are valued at almost R1,5 million.

Bhogal’s assets come to R300 000.

No realisable property could be identified in respect of the rest.

The objective of restraining the property, Samuel said, is because it is likely to yield an amount sufficient to satisfy a confiscation order that will later be sought against the accused.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg
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