South Africa

DAYS OF ZONDO, PART THREE

Vincent Smith breached oath of MPs, says commission in report on Bosasa

Former ANC parliamentarian Vincent Smith. (Photo: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Jaco Marais)

Former ANC parliamentarian and corruption accused Vincent Smith ‘breached the oath sworn by Members of Parliament to uphold the Constitution and to perform their work to the best of their abilities’, the Zondo Commission says in the latest volume of its report, this time focused on Bosasa.

Corruption accused ex-MP Vincent Smith has been referred to authorities for investigation after the release of Part 3 of the report by the Zondo Commission into Allegations of State Capture. 

The report was released on Tuesday and focused extensively, in four parts, on the company Bosasa which secured government tenders and whose big-shots, Angelo Agrizzi and Gavin Watson, handed out extensive bribes. 

Smith was an ANC MP between 1999 and 2019, where he sat on several oversight committees, including that of Correctional Services. Between 1999 and 2014, he was chairperson of the committee. 

During the commission and before, in media reports, it emerged that Smith’s daughter had her overseas study fees paid by Bosasa and that Smith received monthly payments from the company. Smith denied these allegations, claiming his daughter’s fees were a loan. 

In addition, security upgrades at his Roodepoort home after a 2014 burglary were allegedly paid for by Bosasa. According to the inquiry, these upgrades came to R200,000. 

According to the Zondo report, following a meeting in 2011 Smith received R45,000 monthly from Bosasa. Agrizzi told the inquiry Smith received the money for “keeping quiet and helping manage negative press coverage concerning Bosasa, so as to ensure that it would not prevent Bosasa from receiving further business from the state”. 

By 2016, payments to Smith were “increased at his request” to R100,000 a month, the report said. 

Evidence led before the inquiry also pointed to Smith being named in Watson’s black book as “Vincent Smith 100,000”.

Smith denied before the inquiry that there were frequent meetings at which he briefed Agrizzi and Watson on the activities of the Department of Correctional Services. However, Smith testified that he believed any such meetings were not a conflict of interest as he had been appointed as an alternate member of the oversight committee on Correctional Services and had been moved to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

Smith told the commission that payment for his daughter’s overseas study was a loan agreement between himself and Agrizzi – although there was no written agreement between the parties. Smith confirmed he did not disclose the loan to Parliament, but had disclosed his interest in Euro Blitz 48, a company he was a director of. The money from Agrizzi for his daughter’s study was paid into Euro Blitz’s account, totalling almost R600,000 in two payments, in July 2015 and August 2016. 

However, the commission’s report stated: “There is no evidence that the money was paid as a loan… there is no evidence of an agreed interest rate.”

According to the report, Smith’s daughter did not file an affidavit. 

The commission found that Smith had breached the “oath sworn by Members of Parliament to uphold the Constitution and to perform their work to the best of their ability”. 

The commission’s report states that the matter, including the fact that Smith received money from Bosasa and met with Agrizzi and Watson several times to discuss the Department of Correctional Services’ activities, should be referred to “relevant authorities for investigation and prosecution” — to the extent that the existing charges do not cover any of the conduct on the part of Smith set out in the report.

Smith handed himself over to police in October 2020 and pleaded not guilty to charges of corruption. 

On 18 January 2022, Daily Maverick’s Justice Tracker reported that Smith appeared at the Palm Ridge Specialised Crimes Court on charges of tax fraud, money laundering, corruption and breaching the Financial Intelligence Centre Act. The tax fraud charges stem from Smith and Euro Blitz’s failure to disclose taxable income between 9 March 2009 and 11 July 2018, totalling R28-million. His case was postponed to 6 April. DM

 

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