Zondo commission: The return of Agrizzi

Former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi is set to make another appearance before the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture, where earlier this year he revealed explosive details of alleged corruption, fraud and money laundering at the firm.

Agrizzi’s testimony on Thursday follows that of former Bosasa auditor Peet Venter, who told the commission — chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo — how he got dragged into a battle between Agrizzi and Bosasa chief executive Gavin Watson.

At a meeting at Agrizzi’s house in Fourways in November 2017, Venter reluctantly wrote a controversial affidavit implicating Watson in allegations of tax fraud and racketeering.

According to Venter, Agrizzi threatened to expose his role in writing fraudulent invoices if he did not join a group of 22 Bosasa employees readying themselves to blow the whistle on alleged malfeasance at the firm. During his bombshell testimony in January, Agrizzi denied having coerced Venter into writing the affidavit.

READ MORE: Agrizzi forced me to blow the whistle — Venter

Venter further alleged that his affidavit, signed December 2017, was written in parts by Agrizzi and that some of the evidence contained in it were untrue.

When Watson got wind of the meeting at Agrizzi’s house, he contacted Venter to make sure he did not sign the affidavit.

“He asked me whether I am prepared to put my hand on the bible, that I haven’t signed the affidavit. I told him that I haven’t signed the document and that I am prepared to put my hand on the bible,” Venter’s affidavit reads. He confirmed on Wednesday that he wrote this part of his affidavit.

But Venter eventually did sign the affidavit after he allegedly received more threats from Agrizzi.

Venter told the commission on Wednesday that Agrizzi created an email address called [email protected] and would send emails to his employer, D’Arcy-Herrman & Co Inc., and “various other people”.

Venter said he felt he was caught between Agrizzi and Watson.

He also spoke about his February interview with television show Carte Blanche, in which he alleged that Agrizzi blackmailed him.

Venter told the commission that the interview was arranged by controversial Bosasa executives Papa Leshabane and Joe Gumede. He said agreed to do the interview because he wanted to discredit Agrizzi.

He also said he did the Carte Blanche interview partly because he was promised that he would eventually be re-appointed as Bosasa’s tax consultant.

Agrizzi has reportedly submitted a lengthy supplementary affidavit to the commission. On Wednesday, head of the commission’s legal team Paul Pretorius SC indicated that Agrizzi’s testimony could continue into next week.

According to Business Day newspaper, Agrizzi will implicate another MP and North West government officials in Bosasa corruption allegations.

In January, Agrizzi implicated a long list of politicians and government officials in bribery allegations, including Environmental Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, erstwhile South African Revenue Services commissioner Tom Moyane and ANC MP Vincent Smith.

READ MORE: Bosasa arrests: Hawks act on decade-old SIU report

Following his earlier testimony before commission, Agrizzi and three others was arrested by the Hawks in relation to a Special Investigating Unit probe into Bosasa’s lucrative contracts with the department of correctional services.

Agrizzi appeared in court on Wednesday where the National Prosecuting Authority reportedly postponed the corruption case against him until July.

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Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit
Sarah Smit is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She covers topics relating to labour, corruption and the law.
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