Ex-VBS bosses fail to pitch for disciplinary hearing

The disciplinary committee presiding over an SA Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica) hearing into two former top VBS Mutual Bank officials said it was "uncomfortable" that not enough had been done to notify the officials to attend the proceedings which could see them stripped of their chartered accountant titles. 

Neither former VBS and Vele Investments chairperson Tshifhiwa Matodzi, nor former VBS CEO Andile Ramavhunga were present at the disciplinary hearing on Friday at the accounting body's offices in Illovo, Johannesburg.  

Saica’s legal team argued they should be struck off the CA (SA) roll for not less than ten years after they were provisionally sequestrated by the South Gauteng High Court in July and August respectively. The institute is under pressure to be seen to be taking disciplinary action against errant members, which include former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste, former Eskom chief financial officer Anoj Singh, and several ex KPMG executives involved in the audit of Gupta-linked companies. 

Provisional sequestration 

According to a Saica by-law, members can lose their CA (SA) status if they have been provisionally or finally sequestrated. This ruling is subject to the discretion of the disciplinary committee. 

The sequestration applications for Matodzi and Ramavhunga’s estates, together with that of other VBS executives, were bought by the bank’s curator Anoosh Rooplal in a bid to recoup some of the nearly R2bn which was allegedly plundered from the bank. The Limpopo-based bank was placed under curatorship in March by the SA Reserve Bank. 

Sequestration is a legal act which allows creditors or the state to seize or remove assets. Rooplal is still determining the final value of their estates before applying for a final sequestration order against them. 

The Saica rule against members who face sequestration orders allows the professional body to by-pass the lengthy process of the complaint first being referred to the Professional Conduct Committee, where the accused member is invited to make representations before the disciplinary committee hears the matter and makes a ruling. 

On Friday the disciplinary committee heard evidence from various Saica employees that they had been unable to contact either Matodzi and Ramavhunga by phone, email or at their addresses.

Chairperson of the disciplinary committee, adv. Shanee Stein, said the committee felt "uncomfortable" that there hadn't been sufficient attempts to notify Matodzi and Ramavhunga of the disciplinary hearing, given the serious nature of the sanction they face.  

The matter has been postponed to an unspecified date, to allow Saica to try and again contact the pair. 

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