Ramaphosa ‘not warned on VBS’

President Cyril Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa
Image: Moeletsi Mabe

President Cyril Ramaphosa has denied that he failed to take action in the VBS Mutual Bank saga.

The denial‚ contained in a statement on Monday‚ comes after City Press reported on Sunday that sources “close to a major VBS shareholder” told the newspaper that the shareholder had informed Ramaphosa about what was going on at the bank.

“I know that the shareholder met with Ramaphosa‚ who was not president at the time‚” the source was quoted as having told the newspaper.

“The shareholder briefed him about the outrageous corruption at VBS.”

The shareholder reportedly started blowing the whistle in 2016.

Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko said on Monday that the allegation was “baseless and unsubstantiated”.

“President Ramaphosa has no knowledge of any meeting where he is said to have met any person associated with VBS Mutual Bank where he was purportedly briefed on the matter.”

Diko said Ramaphosa was not warned about the implosion of the bank.

“The VBS Bank saga was brought to the attention of the president through official government channels‚ including the national Treasury.”

A forensic report released on Wednesday last week, titled “The Great Bank Heist”‚ detailed how the looting spree allegedly occurred.

The bulk of the funds stolen were allegedly for the benefit of individuals and entities related to VBS executives‚ including its largest purported shareholder‚ Vele Investments.

Advocate Terry Motau and Werksmans Attorneys compiled the report‚ which was commissioned by the South African Reserve Bank.

The report details how the R1.8bn looting spree led to the collapse of the bank and the loss of almost R2bn deposited by some of Limpopo’s poorest municipalities.

In other developments on Monday surrounding the VBS revelations:

● VhaVenda king Toni Mphephu Ramabulana has offered to repay “any amount which will be shown to have been proceeds of the illegalities” .

The incriminatory Reserve Bank report states that Mphephu Ramabulana received a “gratuitous payment” of more than R17m from VBS.

The king said in a statement on Monday that he had read the report‚ and he did not appear to entirely deny that he had received some money from the bank – but suggested that the amount cited was wrong.

“To the best of my knowledge, no amount of R17m was paid to me‚ gratuitous or otherwise. Most significantly‚ the report does not find that I was part of any criminal enterprise,” he said.

He said he would pay back the money as soon as it was “computed and [I] am directed where the repayment must be made and the terms of such repayments” are made.

“In my capacity as the king of the VhaVenda people‚ I receive various grants, including financial support, from various individuals and entities.

“Any such receipts I deem them to be legitimate‚ untainted and bona fide support to the responsibilities I hold in relation to VhaVenda people.

“Any such amounts as may be shown to have been payments flowing from the fraudulent and/or criminal sources involving VBS‚ I would have received without knowledge of the criminal wrongdoing which the report identifies.”

● Former public protector Thuli Madonsela has urged the EFF to conduct its own internal forensic investigation into the bank scandal‚ and to probe whether EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu was aware of his brother’s alleged involvement in it.

She said the amount paid to Brian Shivambu’s company was “huge” and should potentially have raised “red flags” with his brother.

The EFF found itself in the same spot as the ANC “and it seems to me that they’re resorting to the same tactics”, she said. 


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