Saturday, January 16, 2021

South Africa: CR17 campaign to become the subject of money laundering investigation following PP findings

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President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC presidential campaign account will now be the subject of a money laundering investigation, following a directive by the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

Mkhwebane released her report on the Bosasa donation saga on Friday morning, which also looked at the CR17 trust account, the donations received and how the money moved around.

The Public Protector said that large sums of money were transferred by various donors into a trust account named EFG2, which was the account that the CR17 campaign used to collect donations for Ramaphosa’s ANC presidential race.

From there, the money was distributed to several beneficiaries including Ramaphosa’s foundation, the Ria Tenda Trust and Linked Environmental Services.

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“From the evidence received by my office, an amount of more than R191m was deposited into the EFG2 Absa trust account between 6 December 2016 and 1 January 2018 and just over R190m was transferred out of this account in the same period,” Mkhwebane said.

Bank records of the Ria Tenda Trust account showed that over R388 million was deposited into the account between January 1, 2017, and February 20, 2019.

Nearly the same amount was transferred out of the account during the same period.

According to Mkhwebane, the other account she mentioned, Linked Environmental Services saw deposits of more than R441m between 15 December 15, 2016, and February 13, 2019.

Nearly the same amount was transferred out of the FNB account in the same period.

The Linked Environmental Services transferred around R335 000 to Ramaphosa’s foundation between July 20, 2017, and March 26, 2018.

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According to a diagram in the report, Ramaphosa’s advisor Donne Nicol and the CR17 campaign manager James Motlatsi are both trustees of Ria Tenda Trust, while a man named Crispian Olver who is also a trustee of the Ria Tenda Trust, is the director of Linked Environmental Services.

Furthermore, Mkhwebane found that out of all the donations received for the CR17 campaign, records reflect that three large amounts were paid by the same donor.

While R30m was paid over on March 9, 2017, more than R39m and a second payment of over R51m was paid on the same day, September 29, 2017.

On top of this, the R500 000 donation made by Bosasa boss Gavin Watson went through several intermediaries before being deposited into the CR17 account, which was the suspicion that DA leader Mmusi Maimane raised when he lodged a complaint with the Public Protector.

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Mkhwebane said these accounts and transactions give merit to the allegations relating to the suspicion of money laundering and that they should be investigated by the National Prosecuting Authority.

Drawing a conclusion on the donations and the exchanging of large sums of money, Mkhwebane alluded to a scenario of state capture.

“I wish to express my preliminary view that such a scenario, when looked at carefully, creates a situation of the risk of some sort of state capture by those donating these moneys to the campaign,” Mkhwebane said.

Looking at the “prima facie evidence” before her, Mkhwebane said in her findings that she is of the view that allegations of money laundering have merit.

“The allegation that there is an improper relationship between President Ramaphosa and his family on the one side, and the company Africa Global Operations on the other side, due to the nature of the R500 000, payment passing through several intermediaries, instead of a straight donation towards the CR17 campaign, this raising suspicion of money laundering, has merit.”

In her remedial action, she has informed the National Director of Public Prosecutions to conduct a further investigation into the prima facie evidence of money laundering.

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