Parliament's new finance chair promises to wrap up Steinhoff, VBS probes

(iStock)
(iStock)

Newly-elected chairperson of Parliament's standing committee on finance, Joe Maswanganyi, says the Steinhoff and VBS sagas will "reach a conclusion" under his watch as committee head.

News24 earlier reported that the former Minister of Transport was elected chairperson of the standing committee unopposed. 

Engaging with the media after the formal proceedings had adjourned, Maswanganyi said: "The previous committee, in the fifth parliament, have been looking at this matter of Steinhoff and VBS.

"I was a member of the joint committee... and remember, organs of state, the Hawks, other organs of state, the SIU (Special Investigating Unit), the Reserve Bank are also investigating the two issues.

"So I've received a handover report from the previous chairperson and we are going to make sure we reach a conclusion in regard to those two issues of VBS and Steinhoff," said Maswanganyi.

The statement was made more than 19 months after Steinhoff's former CEO Markus Jooste abruptly resigned as auditors flagged accounting irregularities in the group's financial statements, and more than eight months since the release of the report on Advocate Terry Motau's forensic investigation into the affairs of VBS Mutual Bank.   

In December 2017, shortly after Jooste's resignation, Steinhoff approached PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct an independent forensic report into the company's books

Bloomberg reported that the auditor uncovered 6.5 billion euros (roughly R104bn) of irregular transactions with eight firms from 2009 to 2017. The deals, orchestrated over several years, enabled Steinhoff to artificially boost profits, puff up property values and inflate the amount of cash it held, the probe found.

With regards to VBS, News24 previously reported that in November last year, the Hawks had already obtained 65 witness statements in their investigation into the now-defunct mutual bank.

Parliament's SCOF had, at that time, met with the Hawks, the NPA, the South African Reserve Bank and other financial oversight entities follows the release of the report titled "The Great Bank Heist". The report detailed large-scale looting at VBS.

SARB deputy governor Kuben Naidoo said at the time that massive fraud had been committed, with about R1.9bn looted from the bank.

"Fifty-three people or companies received monies from the bank, with 27 named in the summary report," he said, adding that "this was not a victimless crime. There were victims, and they are poor."

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