Another VBS Bank suspect appears in court after arrest

VBS Bank branding. Picture: Moneyweb

The suspect was arrested for allegedly transferring R50 million of municipal funds into VBS Bank.

Former Merafong City Local Municipality chief financial officer (CFO) Matthys Wienekus, 64, made an appearance at the Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Pretoria after being arrested in connection to the VBS Mutual Bank scandal.

This follows seven of the eight suspects linked to the looting of VBS Mutual Bank appeared at the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court on last week, where a number of them opposed the high bail set by the court.

EWN reported that former VBS chief executive officer (CEO) Andile Ramavhunga and former Public Investment Corporation (PIC) nominee, Phalaphala Ramikosi were the only suspects who paid the R100,000 bail.

Wienekus was arrested for allegedly transferring R50 million of municipal funds into VBS Bank despite it being illegal to do so according to the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA).

It was reported that Wienekus transferred the money into VBS Bank 3 days after he was appointed as acting CFO at the municipality.

According to his charge sheet, former Municipal Manager, Romeo Mohaudi instructed Wienekus to make the transfer despite him being was aware that it was illegal to do so.

The former CFO faces up to five years’ imprisonment or a fine, which will be determined by a court. The case has been postponed to the 29 July for plea and sentencing.

READ MORE: Court doesn’t believe VBS accused can’t afford R100K bail each.

“I have indicated that the investigations on the municipalities are at an advanced stage. This is the beginning and all the other cases are receiving the necessary attention” said the National Head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation Dr Godfrey Lebeya.

Merafong Local Municipality is one of the 20 other municipalities that invested municipal funds with VBS Bank in contravention of the law.

A report released in 2018, written by advocate Terry Motau and law firm Werksmans titled The Great Bank Heist, puts the total number stolen from the bank at R1.89 billion, and recommended that more than 50 individuals be criminally charged and held liable in civil proceedings.

One of those individuals was Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) deputy president Floyd Shivambu’s brother, Brian.

It was reported that the EFF has been accused of receiving R16 million from the bank. EFF leader Julius Malema has announced he will be publicly interrogated on the VBS Bank saga by a panel of journalists on Thursday.

Malema tweeted that the public interrogation comes after SABC journalist Samkelo Maseko asked during a National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) briefing whether links between the EFF leader and the party and the bank were being investigated “even though there was no mention of myself or the EFF by NPA”.

National director of public prosecutions (NDPP) advocate Shamila Batohi recently briefed the country on the progress of prosecutions after the disappearance of over R2 billion, which led to the liquidation of VBS Bank.

ALSO READ: ‘We’re broke’ – VBS looting suspects ask for reduction in bail amount.

Malema tweeted that following Maseko’s questioning at the briefing, he then challenged the journalist to put together five of his colleagues from media houses he trusts, who would publicly interrogate the EFF leader on the bank scandal.

The EFF leader said he had spoken to the party to request that Pauli van Wyk be part of the interrogation as she was previously not allowed at its briefings.

Van Wyk has published stories on how the EFF, Malema and his second-in-command Shivambu are believed to have benefitted from the looting of the bank.

The public interrogation will take place at the EFF’s headquarters on Thursday at 12pm and would be broadcast on the party’s various online platforms.

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