13/07/2018 12:38 SAST | Updated 13/07/2018 12:43 SAST

ANC Received 'Donations' From VBS Front Company

New allegations have surfaced that the ANC received funding from VBS executives via a shelf company.

Don Bayley

As accusations against VBS executives pile up, new allegations have surfaced suggesting that the ANC might be implicated in the bank's downfall. It has been suggested that the directors of VBS' majority shareholder, through a front company, donated to the ANC in exchange for support from municipalities.

According to Mail & Guardian, the allegations are found in bank records contained in court papers filed as part of VBS curator Anoosh Rooplal's case against VBS shareholder Vele Investments and former bank officials.

Rooplal has approached the court to have Vele Investments chair Robert Madzonga and other senior officials sequestrated, to recover funds for the bank.

According to the report, senior VBS executives allegedly used a shelf company called Robvet to make fraudulent payments. A payment of R250,000 marked as "ANC gala dinner event", paid on January 6 this year, was reportedly found in Robvet's bank records. The ANC's gala dinner to marks its 106th birthday took place a week later.

Rooplal alleges in court papers that the Robvet account was used to pay "commissions" to third parties in exchange for their help with getting municipalities to deposit funds with VBS, the M&G report says.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe told Mail & Guardian that the R250,000 donation was made through the Progressive Business Forum, and that it would not have accepted it had the party known the source was questionable.

It also emerged that a company owned by former Limpopo ANCYL leader Kabelo Matsepe was paid over R8-million through Robvet by VBS to facilitate municipal deposits into the bank. Matsepe admitted to the Mail & Guardian that he had "did work with these people", but said some of the payments mentioned did not reflect in his bank account, and suggested that his company's name might have been fraudulently used.

The Sunday Times and City Press have revealed how executives allegedly looted VBS, using depositors' funds to fund their lavish lifestyles.

Over the past two weeks, there have been scenes of ordinary VBS depositors queueing in the early hours of the morning to try to salvage their deposits.

As of Friday (today), depositors will be able to draw their money — up to R100 000 — after the Reserve Bank announced it would guarantee deposits of up to that amount. Nedbank is reportedly facilitating these payouts, according to Eyewitness News (EWN).

Depositors reportedly have to open a Nedbank account, and the amount they had in their account at VBS will reflect in the new account.

Banking expert Richard Keetley said Nedbank has the capacity to do this, but said an immediate rush to draw money by many depositors could put branches under pressure.

There were mixed reactions this week from depositors. A member of a family society who asked to remain anonymous, told The Sowetan that he was pleased about the decision, because "people are no longer sleeping outside the bank in Thohoyandou (in Limpopo)".

But another depositor, Thulamela Business Forum chairperson Ntsieni Mbulungeni, reportedly said Nedbank's involvement would create confusion. He said VBS depositors wanted to know if the bank still existed.

"It will add a burden to depositors as they are required to provide additional identification document in order to access their investment [according to Fica requirements], causing additional delays and frustration," he reportedly said.

Meanwhile, the ANC in Limpopo has called for the bank to be saved. According to City Press, ANC Limpopo provincial secretary Soviet Lekganyane claimed VBS was the "pride of Africans" and "the commercial treasure of black entrepreneurs".

"Notwithstanding the current challenges facing the bank, initiatives by previously marginalised people of our country must be supported. Any attempt to find a solution outside resuscitating the bank will go a long way in reversing and derailing the agenda for socioeconomic inclusivity [sic]," he told City Press.

But it is not clear whether the bank can be saved.

According to Mail & Guardian, Rooplal told Parliament's standing committee on finance in May:

"Curatorship is ongoing — we have every intention to continue with curatorship to try protect depositor interest. The level of confidence we have that the bank can be saved and is salvageable is lower than the day it started the curatorship. I am not saying zero, I'm not saying there's no chance; we'll continue to work in that direction."