/ 28 March 2019

Agrizzi: Over R70mn in Bosasa bribes paid to secure state contracts

In February
In February, the Mail & Guardian revealed that Bosasa am?assed R12-billion from government contracts in just over a decade. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

Bosasa paid over R70-million in “gratuities” to retain its state contracts, the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture heard on Thursday.

On his return to the commission — chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo — former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi tallied the amount the firm paid to keep milking provincial and government contracts.

But the R70-million Bosasa allegedly spent paying off officials pales in comparison to the amount the firm made from these contracts between 2000 and 2016. By Agrizzi’s estimate, the total value Bosasa amassed over the same period was over R2-billion.

Bosasa has secured lucrative contracts with the department of correctional services, the department of home affairs and the department of justice and constitutional development.

When asked by evidence leader advocate Paul Pretorius SC if the state received value for money from its contracts with Bosasa, Agrizzi said certain aspects of the contracts were valuable to the state. “But in certain aspects, no,” he admitted.

In February, the Mail & Guardian revealed that Bosasa amassed R12-billion from government contracts in just over a decade.

READ MORE: The Bosasa tally: R12-billion

Out of about 10 000 invoices analysed by the M&G, provided by the treasury from its database, the sum of government contracts invoiced by Bosasa and its entities between mid-2003 and the beginning of this year amounted to R12  282  374  003.

According to the M&G report, there may be dozens of other invoices that have not been reflected in treasury’s database and are still to come to light.

The controversial firm’s contracts with the department of correctional services have been under scrutiny for over a decade. Bosasa has held multimillion rand tenders with the department of correctional services since 2004.

In 2007, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) began investigating Bosasa after a series of lucrative tenders were awarded to the company by the department. The SIU investigation uncovered “an improper and corrupt relationship” between the company and civil servants, which included more than R2-million in cash bribes, several cars, holidays and air tickets.

The SIU recommended that the department take action against its former prisons commissioner Linda Mti and its former chief financial officer Patrick Gillingham.

The SIU also recommended that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) consider prosecuting the pair for their part in four tenders awarded to Bosasa.

The SIU’s 2009 report said: “On the evidence before it, the SIU is accordingly satisfied that the improper and corrupt relationship between Gillingham, [correctional services] commissioner [Linda] Mti and the Bosasa group of companies has seriously undermined the procurement process and exposed the DCS [department of correctional services] to civil suits by competitors who were unfairly treated.”

In February this year Agrizzi, Gillingham, Mti, former Bosasa chief financial officer Andries van Tonder, former Bosasa senior manager Frans Vorster and Bosasa chief accountant Carlos Bonifacio were arrested by the Hawks on charges relating to the SIU report.

Both Agrizzi and Van Tonder gave evidence before the Zondo commission in January, incriminating themselves in allegations of rampant corruption and money laundering at the company.

The pair detailed what they said was an elaborate strategy by Bosasa for generating cash, most of which they allege was kept in the company’s coffers and used to bribe officials in government departments and state entities.

Agrizzi’s earlier testimony implicated over 38 politicians and high-ranking state official in having received cash bribes from Bosasa.

The hearing of Agrizzi’s evidence continues.