Erik Marais out again

2002-08-30 23:04

Cape Town - Erik Marais, the man who helped exchange an anonymous DM99 000 donation to the Democratic Alliance into rands, is again without a job.

In a statement on Friday, Cape Town city spokesperson Pieter Cronje said the unicity and Marais had agreed to terminate his three-month contract early.

"Mr Marais will leave his position today. Mr Marais will be paid for the one month he has worked plus one month as a notice period."

In terms of the agreement all other aspects were confidential, Cronje said.

Marais was fired from Absa bank in July after a disciplinary hearing. He was found to have acted in an irregular manner in processing the donation.

He resurfaced controversially in August as the executive support officer to DA city councillor David Erleigh, to the embarassment of the party's national leadership.

Erleigh's wife is also a councillor for the DA.

The DA's national leadership said at the time that while the matter was a city council issue, it believed the appointment was an error of judgement.

Stoutly defended at the time

However, Erleigh stoutly defended the appointment at the time, saying the job was advertised and the administration had assessed the applicants.

"Marais was by far the best candidate, with an outstanding record. I believe firmly that a person has the right to be regarded as innocent until he is proved guilty. I firmly believe in Marais's innocence," he said at the time.

Cape Town mayor Gerald Morkel reportedly also said he did not believe there was anything wrong with the appointment.

Marais admitted to the Desai Commission that he used his own account as a conduit to pay DM997nbsp;000 into the DA's bank account.

An independent audit commissioned by the DA into claims that DA mayor Morkel and DA chief-fundraiser Leon Markovitz received donations from German fugitive Jurgen Harksen has described Marais' conduct as questionable.

The auditors were unable to establish the source of the anonymous donation.

Testifying before the Desai Commission earlier this year, Morkel said Markovitz had telephoned him in August last year to say the DA had received DM99 000.

The man Hans

Markovitz had told Morkel he believed the man who dropped off the money in cash at his office, was a German who attended a DA fund-raiser at Harksen's Clifton bungalow. He referred to the man only as Hans.

The auditors said the donation was handled in an apparently irregular manner as it was not deposited directly into the bank account.

"Instead Marais received the DM99 000 and gradually exchanged it over some considerable time and arbitrarily made deposits into the Western Cape provincial office accounts."

There was also no explanation why an Absa employee would risk his own exposure to the SA foreign exchange authorities and the SA Revenue Service in order to enable funds to be deposited, the auditors said.

"It is our understanding that anyone in possession of foreign currently is required to sell such currency to a bank within 30 days of receipt thereof. If these funds had been handed to the DA bookkeepers the normal procedure would have been carried out."

Marais told the Desai Commission he had converted DM99 000 into rands at Morkel's behest.

Justice Minister Penuell Maduna warned the DA in parliament it was under investigation for "taking money through laundering" in the wake of the revelations at the commission.