Scambuster

unit busted

Chiara Carter

Several senior National Intelligence Agency (NIA) members face suspension and possible prosecution following a preliminary investigation into claims of missing money and misconduct.

They were members of a special unit set up to find apartheid’s missing millions.

Instead the unit, headed by former Umkhonto weSizwe commander Thabo Kubu, became embroiled in a bizarre spiral of allegations and counter-allegations by its members and hired agents who include a range of apartheid-era operatives.

The auditor general and the public prosecutor are to receive an initial report of an investigation into allegations of serious misconduct in the unit. Investigators are continuing to probe claims that more than R3-million has been misused in the NIA.

Allegations they are investigating include:

l NIA operatives and members, including Kubu, falsified expenses claims.

l Computer equipment reported stolen from the NIA was never delivered.

l Operatives were linked to an elaborate scam involving fleet car purchases with complimentary free cars allegedly going missing.

l Money intended for paying agents was allegedly stolen.

Agents and NIA members deliberately leaked information as part of a vendetta against each other.
Information about billions of rands hidden abroad was not followed up.

Documents dealing with operatives’ links to an international fraud case, as well as investigations into Masterbond, Absa, Lifeline and several other financial inquiries were apparently stolen from an operative’s home.

This was allegedly done by two NIA agents, one of whom is based in Cape Town and understood to be involved in investigations into alleged Mafia boss Vita Palazzolo.

The investigators’ report was handed to the intelligence ministry last Friday and is to be placed before the parliamentary joint standing committee on intelligence.

The preliminary investigation begun by the NIA and taken over by the ministry was sparked by claims of widespread mismanagement and misappropriation of funds by disgruntled NIA operatives employed at Kubu’s unit.

The contents of the initial investigative report have not been made public. However, according to sources, more than R100 000 spent by the unit in the previous financial year has not been accounted for.

The unit, which operated as Mhlanga Rocks Transporters CC from offices in Sandton, was apparently set up to recover money said to have been taken out of the country as slush funds for intelligence operations during the apartheid years, and capital smuggled out of the country prior to 1994.

Kubu’s unit, instead of recovering missing money, became paralysed in a spiral of claims and counter-claims by operatives who fell out with each other and their boss.

Several disgruntled operatives appeared on SABC television earlier this month.

Others contacted Democratic Party leader Tony Leon who has spoken to the Deputy Minister of Intelligence Services, Joe Nhlanhla, about the matter.

The activities of the unit were suspended three months ago when reports first surfaced about alleged mismanagement.

Several operatives are now taking legal steps against the NIA for suspending their salaries.

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