The men accused of destroying VBS were read 47 charges of racketeering, theft, fraud and money laundering before bail was set at R100 000 each. One of the eight, former VBS chief financial officer Philip Truter, was not in court due to allegedly being in Covid-19 isolation.
Catch up: VBS gang finally goes down
Truter’s absence followed him secretly, and ultimately unsuccessfully, negotiating a plea bargain to become a state witness against his former colleagues.
Today’s 81-page charge sheet provides little new detail on how the bank was plundered or how the key players got paid. It did however show that the state is intent on focusing its case on a narrow set of events rather than the wide array of frauds that allegedly took place at VBS over more than two years.
No mention is made of the widespread bribery of municipal officials, a lot of which was previously documented in Adv Terry Motau’s Great Bank Heist report in 2018.
The fake financial statements VBS produced for its financial year to 31 March 2017 loom large in the indictment. Several charges relate to the eight accused preparing and signing off on these knowing they were false and meant to deceive the authorities.
The charge sheet broke down the absurd divergence between what VBS reported and what its books actually looked like at that point. The bank was already hopelessly insolvent a year before it collapsed in early 2018.
How much was stolen?
The total amounts stolen by each of the accused according to the charge sheet differs significantly from the numbers previously cited in the Great Bank Heist report.
Mostly the amounts attributed to each individual is smaller than Motau’s estimate.
Former VBS chief executive Andile Ramavhunga stole R23.5-million according to this week’s indictment, but had received R28.9-million in “gratuitous benefits” according to Motau.
Similar discrepancies apply to all eight accused and seems to stem from the criminal prosecution excluding certain vehicle or mortgage loans that were counted by Motau.
Separately from the money that can be seen going to the eight accused in bank statements, they also stand accused of causing a “general deficiency” of R2 296 599 008 which is the total money missing from VBS.
This figure is the difference between VBS’ remaining assets like its offices, and its massive liabilities. That is not all necessarily money stolen and would include the effect of bad loans getting written off.
According to the charge sheet there will be a total of 42 witnesses called to testify against the VBS co-accused.