A former associate of German fraud suspect Jurgen Harksen has told the Desai commission that he wrote out a half-a-million rand cheque as a donation for the Democratic Alliance on Harksen’s instructions.
However, developer Tony Karsten said, the cheque was never cashed, and Harksen later told him he had sorted out the DA directly with ”brownies” — slang for 1 000 Deutschmark notes.
Karsten, who fell out with Harksen after a R2,5-million investment with the German turned sour, also told the commission that over a two-year period he processed some R7,7-million in Deutschmarks for Harksen.
He said Harksen — who attended Wednesday’s hearing with his customary police guards — usually gave him the Deutschmark equivalent of between R300 000 and R500 000 at a time, which he would take to Standard Bank.
The bank would change the foreign currency to rands.
Some of it would be deposited in the Voyager Trust, which Karsten and his wife had set up early in 2000, and the rest would be handed in cash to Harksen.
Karsten said Harksen asked him to write out the cheque for the DA after a fundraising get-together addressed by DA Western Cape leader Gerald Morkel at a Clifton bungalow in early 2001.
Morkel and DA fundraiser Leon Markovitz ”both said thank you very much it’s a very generous offer”.
Karsten said he could not remember how much had been in the Voyager account at that time, but Harksen had said he would transfer funds to meet the donation.
At a subsequent meeting at the provincial legislature building, Markovitz wanted to know when he could present the cheque at the bank.
”Mr Harksen told him that he was waiting for funds to be cleared from overseas,” Karsten said.
At either that meeting or a subsequent meeting at the legislature, Harksen gave Markovitz a package ”like an envelope”.
”I was led to believe that there was Deutschmarks in the package,” Karsten said.
He also testified that he was present at a DA fundraising luncheon organised by Harksen at Uitsig Restaurant in Constantia, where Morkel mentioned to Harksen that he had to leave the provincial premier’s official residence Leeuwenhof, and that he needed funds to rent a property in Higgovale.
He could not remember the exact amount Morkel wanted, but it was probably in the region of R70 000.
Harksen has claimed before the commission that he paid Morkel’s rent for the new property. – Sapa