I asked Mkhwebane to look into Ramaphosa money laundering all along – Maimane

Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: Jacques Nelles

The DA leader seeks to set the record straight after reports that the party had not formally requested that the public protector look into money laundering allegations.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane has released a statement calling the headline of a report in Business Day – “DA denies raising laundering issue” – “misleading” and adding that he believes it sought to “distort the truth”.

“At no stage has the DA distanced itself from this investigation or the contents thereof,” the statement says.

“Rather, we have been explicitly clear in our call for the matter to be finalised, and for parliament to establish an ad hoc committee to consider the report and its findings – as it did with the Nkandla report,” the statement continues.

The Citizen reported earlier on Monday that, according to Business Day, the party said it welcomed the public protector’s widening of its scope for the investigation, but denied having formally requested for money laundering allegations to be probed, and that this was contradicted by public protector spokesperson Oupa Segalwe, who maintained that a complaint of money laundering was lodged by the DA.

Maimane now wants to set the record straight.

“While the focus of my complaint was on the president’s misleading of the house and his conflict of interest with Bosasa, the manner in which the ‘donation’ was allegedly paid – not directly but through attorneys trust accounts – raised the suspicion of financial irregularities and possible money laundering,” he said.

He then quotes his initial complaint to the public protector.

“The nature of the payment, passing through several intermediaries, does not accord with a straightforward donation and raises the suspicion of money laundering. The alleged donor is further widely reported to have received billions of Rands in state tenders, often in irregular fashion.” (Emphasis added)

The party laid the initial complaint with the public protector’s office following DA leader Mmusi Maimane’s presentation of banking slips in parliament showing Ramaphosa’s son Andile to have received R500,000 from hugely controversial facilities management company African Global Operations, formerly Bosasa.

Ramaphosa initially said these were legitimate payments made to Andile for consulting work, but later backtracked and said it was a campaign donation, something he denied knowing at the time.

READ MORE: Ramaphosa’s supporters need to leave Busi alone, advises analyst

The Sunday Times reported over the weekend that three bank accounts of Ramaphosa, said to be linked to his election campaign, have reportedly been subpoenaed and scrutinised by Mkhwebane as her investigation heated up.

The publication reports that following the initial investigation into the R500,000, Mkhwebane’s investigation has escalated to uncover over R400 million in allegedly laundered donations to the president’s campaign.

Ramaphosa said in May that he had received a section 7(9) of the Public Protector Act notice from Mkhwebane, which meant that if anyone was implicated during the public protector’s investigation, and that implication could be detrimental, an opportunity to respond will be afforded to the person, in this case, Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa was given until Friday to respond, but requested to extend the deadline to June 28.

Ramaphosa claimed he and his campaign managers had made a “deliberate” decision not to be involved in fundraising activities, but to only address meetings and dinners with potential funders.

“We had decided that I would not be provided with the identity of donors or the amounts pledged, as I did not want to feel under obligation to them in any shape or form at any time in the future.”

As a result, he was not aware that he had received payment from Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson. This was when he decided to “correct” his response to Maimane in the National Assembly, he explained.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this story reported that Business Day had reported that the DA had allegedly distanced itself from the money laundering claims being investigated by Mkhwebane. It has now been updated to reflect the DA’s denial of this and statement. 11:30, June 24.  

(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)

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