Saica to take action against accountants implicated in VBS Bank 'heist'

The South African Institute of Charted Accountants (Saica) announced on Thursday night it would initiate disciplinary action against eight of its members, implicated in the 'Great Bank Heist' of VBS Mutual Bank, including former CEO Andile Ramavhunga and former holding company Vele Investments chairperson Tshifhiwa Matodzi.

The other five people who face investigation by Saica are: chair of the VBS audit committee Phalaphala Avhashoni Ramikosi, consultant Bhekwayinkosi Gift Manyanga, CEO Insure group Charl Cilliers, partner in 2017 VBS audit David Broom, and accountant Sechaba Serote.

Saica says it’s also probing Mariette Venter, a chartered accountant and the acting CFO of the Capricorn District Municipality, who, according to the forensic report by Advocate Terry Motau, stood up to pressure and managed to force VBS to return the municipality’s funds to it.

The accounting industry is under pressure to deal with numerous scandals affecting the profession, and Saica changed its rules in June to publish the names of members under investigation, if the issue is deemed to be in the public interest.

Saica said while it was unable to comment on ongoing investigations, any individual accountants who have been found to have contravened the Saica Code of Professional Conduct will be held responsible.

IRBA processes first

Former KPMG lead auditor on the VBS account, Sipho Malaba, will - according to Saica’s rules - first go through a disciplinary process by the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA), before Saica can take action against him, as he is a member of both institutions.

The statutory body for auditors said in April it would investigate his role in the VBS saga. KMPG, meanwhile, has promised to cooperate with the criminal probe into the bank.

According to the Motau forensic report commissioned by the South Africa Reserve Bank (SARB), Malaba committed fraud by attaching his signature to VBS financial statements, misrepresenting the bank's position by nearly R700m, while receiving R34m from VBS.

He is implicated along with 50 others in having benefited from "widescale looting and pillaging" of deposits held at the bank totalling nearly R2bn.

Malaba resigned from KPMG in April, after the audit firm found he’d benefited from VBS loans and had not declared them.

News24 reported earlier that Malaba was expected to launch a court challenge to have the Motau report set aside.

Malaba is expected to be represented by advocate Dali Mpofu SC, who is also the Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) chairperson.

EFF Deputy President, Floyd Shivambu’s brother Brian, is labelled in the Motau report as having received R16m from VBS, and allegedly channeled part of this to the political party.

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