State capture loot
A former cash-in-transit operator has shed more light on how the millions looted from the SME Bank was moved to the beneficiaries of the swindle.
27 June 2019 | Crime
In Namibia the liquidators of the SME Bank, David Bruni and Ian McLaren, have established that Viljoen's AMFS “delivered” N$64 million in hard cash to Johannesburg-based businessman George Markides, who in turn delivered the cash to various recipients.
The former model appeared before the South African state capture commission chaired by Judge Raymond Zondo on 24 June over N$9 million she had delivered to Markides in 2015.
The Zondo commission has established that the N$9 million had come from a company called Koreneka Trading and Investments and not from one of Markides' businesses, as Viljoen said she had thought.
Koreneka is alleged to have been set up to loot state-owned airline South African Express and the provisional North West government in South Africa.
During the Zondo inquiry, Viljoen described her company as a cash-in-transit business, or a “money remitter”, as defined in South Africa's Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA).
SME Bank link
In Namibia the liquidators of the SME Bank have also established that two companies, Crown Finance Corporation and Heritage Investments, owned by Enock Kamushinda, a former non-executive director of the SME Bank, received through direct electronic transfers N$2.8 million and N$2.27 million each from AMFS.
Another cash-in-transit outfit, Rustic Stone 10 CC, a company Viljoen worked for about two years before she started AMFS, also received N$492 285 for “professional services” as an “investment” to Mamepe Capital Asset Managers, a company that received N$30 million of the SME Bank's stolen money.
It was initially claimed that Mamepe Nominees (an entity that does not exist in law) had received N$150 million from the SME Bank, which it then purportedly invested with the notorious VBS Mutual Bank in South Africa.
The Zondo probe
In the Zondo inquiry Viljoen lifted the veil of how on her cash-in-transit company had operated.
When asked to give a description of the AMFS operations, she responded: “If a business would need money we would deliver the funds for them.”
Viljoen had operated AMFS for two years and ten months before it was liquidated in March 2018. During that time, she reported brisk business, saying N$500 million per month was moving through the business a year into its existence.
Viljoen said her clients would ordinarily request funds electronically because she was “giving them their own money back in cash”.
The client would pay in the ordered amount into AMFS' bank account. As soon as the money was paid over to AMFS, it would in turn pay it into the bank account of a company called SBV Service (Pty) Ltd.
SBV Services would then withdraw the money - often millions at a time - pack it into clear bags, and AMFS would deliver the bags to its clients.
“[By] the end of 2017 I would get up to a hundred phone calls a day; my phone never stopped. Business was good. It was busy,” Viljoen testified.
She said she would get a 3% commission per transaction. She said what gave AMFS a competitive edge over other cash-in-transit companies was that it used unmarked cars to deliver the cash, was cheaper and offered same-day delivery.
Viljoen said all the inquiries by the SME Bank liquidators related to transactions carried out by Markides, who was the sole proprietor trading under two of his businesses, Dedrego and ITH.
She said she was under the impression that Markides' business was a trading house buying goods in South Africa and exporting them to the rest of Africa.
Asked if she ever made enquiries about the source of the millions Markides had asked her to deliver in cash, Viljoen said: “I thought the funds came from them, Markides and his entities.”
Viljoen said since the client's money was paid into her bank account, she took it that the particular banks had the responsibility to find out where the funds came from.
“Well, that is clearly what has been happening with Mr Markides' cases. If I just look at the SME [Bank] case, so I can make that assumption that the funds actually never went for his business and it went on to someone else,” Viljoen said, adding that Markides then made the funds available to a third party.