Two more VBS Mutual Bank executives have been provisionally sequestrated, bringing the total number of managers at the institution whose assets were now effectively on ice to five.
This was ruled in the high court in Johannesburg on Friday in the fraud saga involving R1.5-billion which was allegedly plundered from the bank.
Andile Ramavhunga, VBS’s chief executive officer, was provisionally sequestrated, along with Robert Madzonga, VBS’s previous chief operations officer and group executive officer of Vele Investments, in the latest court action on Friday.
Judge Moroa Tsoka found Ramavhunga’s version of events implausible.
He said a payment of R15-million received by Ramavhunga, which Ramavhunga had claimed was a fee relating a business deal, was “the proceeds of fraud”.
Tsoka also found Madzonga’s version to be false.
He said Madzonga’s claim that he had received a payment for a promotion was “nothing but a lie”.
“[VBS] has been stripped of its assets,” Tsoka said, adding that this impacted on “the only means of survival” for those who deposited money with the bank.
On Tuesday, provisional sequestration orders were granted against three other VBS bosses: Tshifhiwa Matodzi, the former chair of VBS’s board of directors and also director and chairperson of Vele Investments, Phillip Truter, the bank’s chief financial officer; and Phophi Mukhodobwane, the bank’s general head of treasury and capital management.
Vele Investments, VBS’s main shareholder which allegedly also benefited from the alleged fraud carried out by bank executives, was also liquidated.
Matodzi, Truter and Mukhodobwane had not opposed the provisional sequestration applications against them.
Ramavhunga and Madzonga had and their matters were therefore argued in court.
At least R1.5-billion was allegedly looted from VBS and used by executives who bought, among other items, luxury vehicles.
During court proceedings earlier this week to try and push ahead with the provisional sequestrations, Michael Antonie SC, the legal representative of the curators in the matter, argued that the saga was “the biggest bank robbery in South Africa”.
The only difference was that, instead of carrying firearms and wearing handkerchiefs over their faces, argued Antonie, those involved had worn chic clothing.
“They dressed in Armani suits and had computers,” he had said.
It had been alleged that in October 2017 Ramavhunga received a R15-million bonus the same day an allegedly fictitious deposit of R350-million was created in an account of Vele, which was a client of VBS.
But it was heard in court that Ramavhunga denied the R15-million was a bonus.
He said he received the payment after his business, Dambale Holdings, facilitated a deal that saw Matodzi buy another business, Mvunonala Holdings.
But Antonie had described this version as absurd.
“This is what points to this not being a genuine banker-client relationship. This explanation of Ramavhunga is simply not sustainable,” he said.
In the case of Madzonga, Antonie argued that he was “central to the conspiracy”.
However, Jonathan Blou SC, Madzonga’s advocate, had said his client only became aware of the looting on March 11 this year.
This was a day after VBS was placed under curatorship.
SizweNtsalubaGobodo Advisory Services (Proprietary) Limited, represented by Anoosh Rooplal, was appointed to deal with this.
Another aspect that became the centre of argument in court this week was an affidavit by Mukhodobwane, a document which Rooplal had referred to in an affidavit of his own.
Mukhodobwane, in his affidavit, made shocking claims, including how alleged bribe money was transported in a helicopter purchased by VBS, a purchase which has not been accounted for in the bank’s books.
As a result of his disclosures, Mukhodobwane was labeled the main witness in the matter.
But he has since said the details in his affidavit are inadmissable because he did not know investigators would expose him as the main informant. — Fin 24