I take responsibility, but it wasn't me, says ex-PIC exec linked to VBS saga

A former PIC executive who was implicated in the financial saga of the collapsed VBS Mutual Bank on Monday sought to clear his name of any wrongdoing, saying he will cooperate with law agencies.

Paul Magula, a former executive head of Risk and Compliance at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), also sat on the VBS board. In April 2018, he was fired from his job for incompetence, following an internal disciplinary process.

In his evidence before the PIC inquiry, Magula said he had never participated in any illegal, fraudulent activities during his time as a VBS board member.

"As a former board member of VBS Mutual Bank….I take responsibility that what happened was wrong," he said.

He further stressed that there was no way he could have known what was happening "beyond the misrepresentations made to the board through audit reports that were presented to me as a board member."

The PIC held a 25% stake in VBS, and Magula served as one of two delegated directors on the board of the bank.

According to a City Press report, Magula received at least R5.05m from VBS’s major shareholder, Vele, between December 2016 and February last year, and in 2017 got a R4.8m mortgage from the bank. He said he only learnt about things such as fictitious deposits, fraudulent withdrawals bribes when he appeared before the Prudential Authority’s forensic investigators.

In his defence, Magula, who spoke of the enormous concentration of power between the former CEO, Dan Matjila, and then-CFO Matshepo More, testified that the VBS matter later added to his disciplinary charges after he had already been put on suspension.

"I have never participated in any illegal, fraudulent activities during my tenure as a VBS board member," he said, adding that his dismissal was unfair.

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