Hawks, NPA teams already at work on VBS fraud investigation

Chair of VBS Mutual Bank Tshifhiwa Matodzi is seen during the signing of a partnership between the bank and Twelve Apostles Church in Johannesburg. (Mduduzi Ndzingi, Gallo Images, Sowetan, file)
Chair of VBS Mutual Bank Tshifhiwa Matodzi is seen during the signing of a partnership between the bank and Twelve Apostles Church in Johannesburg. (Mduduzi Ndzingi, Gallo Images, Sowetan, file)

The final investigation report into the R1.8bn fraud at VBS Mutual Bank released on Wednesday cannot be used as evidence to prosecute any individuals, but is serving as a "useful guide" to prosecutors and police investigators.

This is according to National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku as well as Hawks spokesperson, Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi.

Advocate Terry Motau was appointed to lead the investigation and his report, titled "The great bank heist", set out in detail how the collapse of VBS was brought about by a series of fraudulent transactions worth billions, involving more than 50 individuals.

READ: Heads must roll over 'alarming' VBS Mutual Bank report - ANC

VBS was placed under curatorship in March and Motau was appointed shortly thereafter.

News24 understands that a team of five prosecutors have been assigned to the VBS matter to guide a massive team of at least 10 Hawks investigators through the investigation.

Mfaku said the prosecutors had received the report and were studying it.

Must comply

"The report as it stands cannot be used for any criminal prosecution, the matter requires further criminal investigation. We have to comply with the rules of evidence," Mfaku said.

"For evidence to be presented in court, we must comply."

READ: Explosive report into VBS Mutual Bank reveals large-scale 'looting'

Mulaudzi meanwhile confirmed that a team of Hawks investigators have been busy with at least five dockets surrounding the VBS matter "for a long time".

"The matter has and is receiving serious attention," Mulaudzi said.

He explained that the team consisted of individuals from various provinces and units within the Hawks, who could use the report in guiding their work if they chose to do so.

He added that originally there had been five or six dockets which had now been centralised into one case.

Assist law authorities

The South African Reserve Bank, when publishing the report on Wednesday, took a similar stance.

"The evidence presented in the report is not a reflection of either the guilt or innocence of any party, as not all parties have been given an opportunity to respond to the evidence," the SARB statement accompanying the report read.

"The report may assist the law enforcement authorities in its investigation into the affairs of VBS. Once their investigations have been concluded, the authorities may decide to institute criminal prosecutions; the courts will be the final adjudicator in this regard."

Motau has recommended criminal and civil proceedings to recover some of the R1.8bn he says was looted out of the bank.

His report also finds that VBS is "rotten to the core" and he does not envisage any possibility of saving the bank.

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