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MI spy blows lid on scams, murders

Staff Reporter

Chris Opperman

RICH VERSTER, the former Military Intelligence spy now being debriefed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, was allegedly a crook who disguised gold and diamond scams as covert activities.

Verster is awaiting trial in a British jail on charges of drug smuggling. Transvaal Deputy Attorney General and former prosecutor in the Eugene de Kock trial, Anton Ackerman, is in Britain to interview him. And truth commission chief investigator Dumisa Ntsebeza is on his way.

They are hoping Verster will provide information that will solve the political murders of prominent activists such as Dulcie September, David Webster and Anton Lubowski.

He is also believed to have proof that the previous government was involved in the international drug trade.

Verster was recruited as an agent for the Directorate of Covert Collections (DCC) in the late 1980s while he was in jail serving an eight-year sentence for his involvement in the Msinga faction fights in Kwazulu- Natal where he was hired by one group as a sniper.

A keen golfer and close friend of former DCC director, Tolletjie Botha, he is well known in Pretoria golfing circles, particularly at the Monument Park Country Club where several businessmen were recruited for undercover operations.

According to reliable sources, some of those operations were scams involving trading arms and stolen vehicles for gold, ivory and diamonds.

Such a scam took shape in 1990 when Verster and two golfing buddies formed two close corporations using false bank accounts. Another golfing friend and bank manager was approached and told they needed funds to smuggle gold and ivory.

He was asked to draw money from company accounts to support the venture. The money was to be paid back once the scams bore fruit.

But the scheme failed and when bank officials started investigating, the bank manager refused to co-operate, saying he feared for his life because it would jeopardise other top-secret MI operations.

An attorney was called in to negotiate with the bank, which agreed not to take the matter further if the money was paid back. The bank manager was forced to resign, but managed to destroy documents implicating the parties.

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