Serious fraud at state-owned Sentech

Details have started to emerge of serious financial irregularities at Sentech, the state-owned signal distributor, under the agency’s previous board.

Briefing Parliament’s communications committee last week, Sentech chair Quraysh Patel said “fraudulent cases” amounting to R120-million had been uncovered at Sentech and had been reported to Communications Minister Simphiwe Nyanda.

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  • Patel also said a separate report had been drafted on one of the biggest cases, the “RentWorks debacle”, in which R35-million had been ­identified as irregular expenditure.

    This case relates to a contract Sentech signed with IT finance company RentWorks Africa to lease technology. Patel said the board was considering legal advice on whether to lay criminal charges against former board members over this contract and would meet government soon to decide how to proceed.

    If charges were laid, all board members involved would be implicated.

    Patel said the new board had initiated disciplinary action against former Sentech chief financial officer Mohammed Cassim over a number of irregularities.

    According to Patel Cassim was “clearly not a reliable person” as he had failed to pay VAT; had paid invoices without contracts being in place; sent reports to the treasury without submitting them to the accounting authority for finalisation and was fined for not paying Independent Communications Authority of South Africa fees.

    Sentech’s board was fired earlier this year after a task team appointed by Nyanda uncovered serious problems at the signal distributor. Nyanda appointed a new board in April, replacing former chairperson Colin Hickling with Patel.

    Lloyd Gedye

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