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13 Nov 2009 09:58
As the ghost of Brett Kebble returned to haunt Jackie Selebi this week, one important lesson for prospective corruptors emerged from Selebi’s graft trial: always bribe in cash.
It leaves a much murkier paper trail and makes it almost impossible for the prosecution to prove that dirty money exchanged hands, without turning one of the corrupt parties into a state witness. Given the nature of his admitted misdeeds, this witness will be exposed as a scumbag and the burden on the state to prove its case will increase.
As the long-awaited forensic report into Selebi’s financial affairs was finally placed before court on Monday, the former top cop’s legal team quickly capitalised on the fact that there is no paper trail proving that Selebi received cash from his former friend, drug-dealer Glenn Agliotti.
It became clear again this week that the state has no smoking gun to hold against Selebi—such as a videotape catching him in the act or a French fax, à la the Jacob Zuma trial, that purports to prove his acceptance of dirty money in exchange for official favours.
What the state has tried to do is accumulate as many inferences as it can that Selebi was corrupt and then hope that Judge Meyer Joffe will have no alternative but to call something that looks, tastes and feels like an apple, an apple.
So far in the basket are the incredible Mr Agliotti, his former fiancée Dianne Muller, Muller’s father Martin Flint and KPMG’s “report on factual findings”.
Other witnesses called this week had no direct dealings with Selebi’s finances.
Agliotti testified (among a myriad other things) that he bribed Selebi with cash parcels from “consultation fees” paid to him by the Kebbles.
Flint, also Muller’s bookkeeper, now claims he does not know if Selebi received cash from Agliotti, but says he often saw the former police commissioner at the Midrand office where he, Muller and Agliotti worked. He also said “JS”, on the cheque stubs, could have been an abbreviation for John Stratton, Brett Kebble’s business partner at mining house JCI.
KPMG auditor Déan Friedman tried to pull all this together in his 50-page report. He and his team were asked by the Scorpions to perform a two-pronged investigation: to try to identify any suspected payments from the Kebble companies that could have been for Selebi’s benefit and to analyse Selebi’s bank accounts to establish if there was a change in his spending patterns.
KPMG was originally appointed by the Scorpions to investigate allegations of massive fraud and corruption committed by Brett Kebble and his colleagues through mining houses JCI and Randgold & Exploration. The probe was baptised “Empire K”. Their brief was expanded after the Scorpions actively started pursuing Selebi.
Friedman made it clear that they could not find any transfers from the Kebble accounts to Selebi.
Kebble’s “slush fund”
KPMG’s report provides a glimpse into the massive fraud allegedly committed by Kebble and his associates through the creation of fictitious loan accounts and false property transactions. This was done in effect to finance a slush fund called Spring Lights that was used mainly for corporate espionage and other dirty tricks, dubbed “consulting”.
According to the KPMG report, Agliotti told them he was appointed by Brett Kebble and Stratton to “protect the integrity of JCI Limited as a result of DRD’s appointment of AIN [Associated Intelligence Networks]”.
The background to his appointment is the dirty fight between the Kebbles and Mark Wellesley-Wood, the former chief executive of DRDGold. Mining journalist David McKay once said the brawl was “as incredible as it’s acrimonious”.
“The two men [Roger Kebble and Wellesley-Wood] have sued and allegedly spied on each other,” McKay wrote. “Kebble has been imprisoned [in a series of events allegedly orchestrated by Wellesley-Wood]; Wellesley-Wood was deported [allegedly through Kebble’s links with the government’s home affairs department].
“And all the while, both have gladly seized the opportunity to firmly place a hob-nailed boot to the other’s scrotum—preferably in public. For example, who can forget Wellesley-Wood’s dubbing as ‘that pin-striped bandit’—an indelicate sobriquet invented by Brett Kebble, Roger’s son, during one live radio interview during 2002?”
Wellesley-Wood also pressed charges against Roger Kebble for allegedly siphoning off money from DRD. The state eventually decided not to prosecute.
It is in this context that Spring Lights was allegedly being used to fund the Kebbles’ fight-back. And who better to have on the books than the police boss?
That is the state’s case. Whether Friedman’s evidence was enough to prove this, is another question that only Judge Joffe can answer.
The amounts deposited into Spring Lights dwarf the alleged R1,2-million that flowed to Selebi via Agliotti. Almost R40-million was paid into the Spring Lights account during 2004-05, the bulk of it emanating from JCI and its subsidiary, Consolidated Mining Management Services (CMMS).
Misty Mountains was a “fictitious” loan account created in CMMS’s books through which R6-million was channelled to Spring Lights.
Friedman was provided with a draft affidavit by Agliotti, detailing his alleged payments to Selebi from the Spring Lights account. He referred to seven cash cheques that were drawn between June 2004 and September 2005 against Spring Lights, with cheque stub inscriptions referring to “CASH COP”, “CASH JSGA” or “CASH Chief”.
This, Friedman indicated, most likely referred to Selebi, to whom Agliotti referred as “chief”. He compared the dates of these payments with withdrawals from Selebi’s bank accounts and “inferred” that Selebi drew substantively less cash from his bank in the months after allegedly receiving bribes from Agliotti.
The Heath payments
Other deposits into Spring Lights, highlighted by KPMG, were made through former judge Willem Heath’s investigations consultancy Heath Specialist Consultants (HSC).
Heath is the former head of the special investigating unit and an adviser to Justice Minister Jeff Radebe.
According to the report, more than R750 000 was paid by HSC to Spring Lights for “legal fees” and “consulting and research”. Heath’s involvement with the Kebbles also goes back to the DRD dispute. According to Friedman, Stratton told KPMG that Heath’s services were retained during the dispute with Wellesley-Wood, but that HSC also worked on “other assignments” for JCI and the Kebbles.
HSC had a retainer agreement with CMMS. KPMG established that Heath’s outfit further invoiced CMMS in respect of “consultancy and research by third parties transferable by HSC”. Heath confirmed that he had to pay third parties, including Spring Lights, “on instruction of our clients”.
This led to the situation where HSC would make payments to Spring Lights from its “trust account” and then claim back that money from CMMS. This happened while CMMS and JCI were already depositing large sums of cash into the Spring Lights account.
KPMG did not interrogate these payments further for purposes of the Selebi trial.
Read more from Adriaan Basson
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