DM168 SCORPIO INVESTIGATION
VBS rogues’ gallery: The men who allegedly scored millions
A quick recap on those implicated in the VBS Mutual Bank scandal.
First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.
Tshifhiwa Matodzi was fingered by Terry Motau and Werksmans, in their forensic report, as the kingpin in the scam that fleeced VBS. Matodzi ordered and orchestrated the flow of more than R325-million in VBS money to companies and people associated with him. He used multiple fronts to hide his role, Motau found. He chaired both VBS and a company called Vele Investments, which obtained the majority shareholding in VBS through a scam, Motau found. Matodzi baldly denied any wrongdoing, but WhatsApps and internal documents Scorpio has seen show how Matodzi ordered his co-accused to distribute VBS money to companies and individuals, organised through a secret WhatsApp group named “Black Ops”. Matodzi bought a helicopter and a Ferrari with his VBS riches.
Robert Madzonga (53), former COO of VBS and CEO of Vele Investments, is an admitted attorney with more than 23 years’ experience. The NPA alleges that about R34.5-million in cash and loans were funnelled to him through his fronts, on the instruction of Matodzi and Madzonga himself.
The crux of Madzonga’s defence in sequestration proceedings in 2019 was that he knew nothing of the fraudulent scheme or the financial position of VBS or that of Vele.
He claimed he did not knowingly benefit from the VBS fraud. The court found this improbable.
Madzonga’s ethics have been questioned before, in his role as COO of MTN. A PwC report mentioned him specifically in relation to corruption at the cellphone giant.
Motau found that none of Madzonga’s 2017-2018 income was declared to SARS.
Solly Maposa (49) is the former VBS managing director for retail, with control over some banking systems. The indictment alleges he received a cumulative R38.5-million in benefits, loans and cash. Some cash payments were allegedly made from Matodzi to accounts Maposa controlled. These payments were allegedly made on the instructions of Matodzi, Ramavhunga and Mukhodobwane.
Motau found Maposa played an important role. He testified before Motau about the use of numerous banking accounts as “slush funds” to distribute the loot.
Former executive director and CEO of VBS Andile Ramavhunga steadfastly denied his involvement in the VBS crimes. Yet he received R28.9-million, which he described as “consultancy fees”. Motau described the evidence against him as damning. His finances suggest Ramavhunga bought a Land Rover, a Mercedes-Benz and a lot of fast food with his VBS riches. He also channelled millions in cash to a private account.
Along with his co-accused, former VBS bank treasurer Phophi Mukhodobwane acted on Matodzi’s instructions. Matodzi ordered him to pay millions to the front company of EFF leaders Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu, adding that they were “lobbying fees” and the account was “extremely strategic”. He allowed more than R30.5-million in cash and banking facilities to be channelled to front companies and people linked to him. He bought a new Porsche Cayenne GTS through a front company, Lemawave (Pty) Ltd, operated by his brother.
The state says Mukhodobwane received at least R17-million in VBS money. Motau found that Mukhodobwane gratuitously received at least R30-million in vehicle finance, mortgage bonds and cash.
Philip Truter, the bank’s chief financial officer (CFO), was responsible for the financial and risk management of VBS. Motau found that, on Truter’s watch, the bank was robbed into insolvency. About R2.7-billion in poor people’s stokvels and municipalities’ money was funnelled to bankers, auditors, lawyers, politicians and businesspeople, liquidator Anoosh Rooplal later found. Truter entered into a plea bargain with the NPA and will testify against his co-accused in the upcoming R2-billion alleged fraud case.
The five fixers, the NPA alleges, solicited deposits from various municipalities and state-owned entities. They were allegedly rewarded with large cash payments and beneficial or illegal loan agreements. The most prolific fixer, businessman Kabelo Matsepe (29), seems to be the link between some municipalities and ANC Limpopo leader Danny Msiza, the indictment states.
SARS informed Matsepe that he had allegedly evaded tax intentionally and it would claim R61-million in unpaid and undeclared tax and would request his sequestration. The High Court ruled in favour of SARS.
Matsepe is linked to Danny Msiza, who received R35.4-million allegedly stolen from VBS. Matsepe’s version is that the money was “commissions” for linking municipalities to the bank. Items on his shopping list were a Range Rover and a R5.5-million house in Midstream Estate, Centurion.
Danny Msiza (53) used Matsepe as a front, the NPA alleges. Msiza had a brief victory when the High Court scrapped the findings against him in Motau’s report because Msiza wasn’t given the opportunity to offer his side of the story.
Msiza can now explain, in court, the money flows into accounts linked to him. He was forced to step aside from his position as ANC Limpopo treasurer.
Ralliom Razwinane (39) linked the Free State Development Corporation, the Community Schemes Ombud Service and municipalities to VBS. The NPA alleges Razwinane received about R7-million in various accounts for his part in the looting of VBS.
Takunda Edgar Mucheke (37) describes himself as the chief investment officer at TNE Advisory Services and a chartered accountant. The NPA claims he was paid R7-million in VBS loot; he sent R3.38-million to a company under the control of fellow fixer Tshianeo Madadzhe (37). DM168
This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for R25 at Pick n Pay, Exclusive Books and airport bookstores. For your nearest stockist, please click here.