A controversial Angolan banker lost his R144 million investment in VBS Mutual Bank, making him one of a long line of wealthy businessmen who lost millions in the massive fallout.
City Press reports ANC Limpopo treasurer Danny Msiza and businessman Kabelo Matsepe brokered a deal with Angolan millionaire Álvaro Sobrinho.
A delegation that included Msiza, Matsepe, Venda King Toni Mphephu, his adviser Paul Makhavu, former VBS CEO Andile Ramavhunga and Vele Investments chairperson Tshifhiwa Matodzi reportedly travelled to London to discuss the deal with Sobrinho.
Vele Investments was a majority shareholder at VBS, but has now been liquidated.
According to the Sunday paper, the office of the king confirmed the trip, but said Mphephu only made the trip after the deal had been concluded and after the payments had been made.
Ramavhunga reportedly told a panel of interrogators in the VBS investigation that Sobrinho had planned to enter a business deal with Vele and create a trade finance venture under VBS.
The Angolan businessman has gained a reputation for himself elsewhere after accusations that he ran Banco Económico Santo Angola (Besa) to the ground, in much the same way rampant corruption destroyed VBS.
Sobrinho was once accused of taking $615 million (about R8 billion) from Besa, which he headed for a decade, but then it collapsed to the point of requiring a state bailout. The loot was allegedly enjoyed by him and associates, including Tchizé, the daughter of billionaire Isabel dos Santos.
Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of Angola’s former president, is a known business partner of Sobrinho’s.
In an email sent to The Citizen on Monday, 13 August, James Knight, on behalf of the office of Dr Sobrinho responded to the allegations as follows: “In 2017, representatives of both ASA Ltd and VBS Mutual Bank entered discussions about a potential joint venture to explore banking and trade finance opportunities in Africa.
“As reported elsewhere, this joint venture was due to be structured with a shareholding of 51% VBS Mutual and 49% ASA Ltd in Mauritius. It began with an initial deposit of USD 10 million from Dr Sobrinho.
The funds were deposited, however, not in VBS but in trust at the account of Rooth and Wessels Inc (“R&W Attorneys”) with First National Bank in Pretoria.
“This partnership was brokered by Joseph Malukeke, a Director of R&W Attorneys, not by Danny Msiza or Kabelo Matsepe.
“Given the joint venture did not move forward, the formal request for return of funds was sent in October 2017 to Joseph Malukeke, R&W Attorneys and First National Bank.”
Knight said, regarding the performance of Banco Espirito Santo Angola during his time as CEO, that “Dr Sobrinho was cleared of all wrongdoing in the forensic investigations that took place following the collapse of the Banco Espirito Santo Group in both Angola and Portugal.
“The allegations repeated in the article of improprieties with Besa are without factual basis,” he claimed.