South Africa


Former VBS finance boss Philip Truter strikes deal with NPA

Philip Truter. (Photo: VBS 2016 Annual Report)

Alleged fraudsters behind the VBS bank destruction will face ‘insider’ testimony when they go to trial. A former colleague will be spilling the beans.

Philip Truter, disgraced former chief financial officer of VBS Mutual Bank, has entered into a plea bargain with the National Prosecuting Authority and will testify against his co-accused in the upcoming R2-billion alleged fraud case.

This follows nearly a year of negotiations with prosecutors during which Truter secured a reduction in his likely jail sentence to 10 years, of which three will be suspended. He will also be held in a single cell “for safety reasons”.

Truter’s incarceration compares with a normal minimum sentence of 15 years for most of the six charges he faces. These range from money laundering to fraud, theft and corruption.

Truter agreed to provide a sworn statement and hundreds of pages of evidence, say sources in the NPA. He was convicted and jailed on Wednesday 7 October after pleading guilty in accordance with his bargain in terms of section 105A of the Criminal Procedure Act.

The deal was accepted by the Palm Ridge magistrate’s court.

Truter originally faced 22 different charges in the indictment produced by the NPA on 17 June. He potentially still faces the balance of the 22 charges (ie. 16 charges) if his testimony is judged to not be genuine. This is because the NPA is using a mechanism created under section 204 of the Criminal Procedure Act that allows it to not pursue a charge as a way to reward cooperation by an accused.

Now for the rest

Truter’s plea and conviction came one day before his co-accused were due to appear in court to plead guilty or not guilty. They include former VBS chairman and “mastermind” Tshifhiwa Matodzi, chief executive Andile Ramavhunga and treasurer Phophi Mukhodobwane.

Alongside them will be the Public Investment Corporation’s two former representatives to the VBS board, Paul Magula and Ernest Nesane. The last accused is Phalaphala Avhashoni Ramikosi, the former chief financial officer of the South African Police Service and also a former board member of VBS.

They face a collective 47 charges.

 There were earlier public signs that Truter had broken ranks with the rest of the VBS team.

He was arrested separately from his co-accused, who were swept simultaneously on 17 June. The reason given for this was that he was in isolation after coming into contact with someone infected with Covid-19. Truter was arrested the following week and consequentially has not appeared in a court beside the others and now probably never will.

AmaBhungane understands that it was, in fact, Truter’s repeated prevarication about a plea deal that delayed the arrest of the VBS accused for several months. DM


The amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism, an independent non-profit, produced this story. Like it? Be an amaB Supporter to help us do more. Sign up for our newsletter to get more.




Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Graeme de Villiers says:

    Beautiful. Sing, little canary, SING!
    Take as many of the thieves down with you, hopefully the entire EFF hierarchy too.

  • Coen Gous says:

    We sort of expected this would happen some months ago, as it was reported Truter was considering it. This news is huge, and is one of the 1st high profile corruption/fraud convictions in years, as far as I know. Like Graeme comment, “sing canary sing”, vibrate and echo throughout the corridors of the ANC, the EFF, ex-VBS Management, Municipal management, Bosasa, as well as the house corridors of Zuma and his sons, his pals the Gupta’s, and the police officials involve in similar crimes. To the Treasurer General, please do NOT cut the budget of the NPA at this time, otherwise all their work, and the work of the Zonda commission, would have been a waste of time, and money!

  • Hiram C Potts says:

    It’s always the same, once the loot’s been split, it’s amazing how quickly thieves fall out with each other in order to save their own hides.

    Hopefully the facts & details will all be revealed; some sleepless nights ahead for some of our verbose loudmouth politicians….

  • Desmond McLeod says:

    Hope he doesn’t regret this decision by finding that he is the only one to serve time – the others are acquitted through technical problems or incompetence by the prosecutors!

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