Former VBS boss only heard of ‘looting’ after it happened, advocate argues

A former VBS Mutual Bank boss only found out about alleged plundering of R1.5-billion from the institution just before it was placed under curatorship, an advocate has told the Johannesburg high court.

Intense arguments were heard on Wednesday around whether or not Robert Madzonga, VBS’s previous chief operations officer and group executive officer of Vele Investments, should be provisionally sequestrated.

During proceedings on Wednesday, Jonathan Blou SC, Madzonga’s advocate, said his client only became aware of the looting on March 11 this year.

READ MORE: Three VBS execs provisionally sequestrated, Vele liquidated

This coincided with when VBS was placed under curatorship. SizweNtsalubaGobodo Advisory Services (Proprietary) Limited, represented by Anoosh Rooplal, was appointed to deal with this.

In an affidavit, Rooplal had named Madzonga as being among the “controlling minds” behind the alleged fraud saga.

Blou on Wednesday argued that Rooplal had based his own affidavit on one by Phophi Mukhodobwane, the bank’s general head of treasury and capital management, and that this was hearsay.

Other VBS executives have also become the focus of court action.

Andile Ramavhunga, VBS’s chief executive officer, may also be placed under provisional sequestration — this was argued in court on Tuesday and a judgment is yet to be delivered.

On Tuesday, provisional sequestration orders were granted against Tshifiwa Matodzi, the former chair of VBS’s board of directors and also director and chairperson of Vele Investments, as well as Phillip Truter, the bank’s chief financial officer; and Mukhodobwane.

Vele Investments, VBS’s main shareholder which allegedly also benefited from alleged fraud carried out by bank executives, was also liquidated.

It emerged in court on Wednesday that Mukhodobwane wants to appeal the provisional sequestration.

Blou on Wednesday argued that Madzonga became the group execute of Vele in September 2017 when alleged fraudulent activities had apparently started in March that year already.

He had earlier argued that a payment of R4.5-million was the only thing linking Madzonga to the alleged R1.5-billion plundered from VBS and that the main witness in the matter, Mukhodobwane, had not linked his client to fraud.

READ MORE: VBS head’s explanation of R15m bonus is ‘absurd’, court hears

Madzonga, according to Blou, had said the R4.5-million was received as he had been promoted.

Michael Antonie SC, who is legally representing the curator, had earlier argued that in February 2018 Madzonga had seen that a total of R18-million was paid to VBS.

Antonie had said the R18-million payments to VBS were unusual in that Mukhodobwane, as a senior VBS staffer, had contacted Madzonga, in his personal capacity and at the same time head of the bank’s biggest shareholder, asking him “to solve the liquidity crisis at the bank”.

The payments, Antonie alleged, were to try and conceal the fact that VBS could not pay its creditors.

The matter is expected to resume on Friday.

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