Zondo asked to investigate whether judges have been ‘captured’

Justice Raymond Zondo who heads the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture. Picture: Karen Sandison / African News Agency (ANA)

Justice Raymond Zondo who heads the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture. Picture: Karen Sandison / African News Agency (ANA)

Five judges currently under British investigation were identified last year by the Royal Court in Jersey as having enabled money laundering.

While immersed daily in hearing chilling testimonies on the magnitude of state capture that gripped South Africa under the Jacob Zuma administration, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s attention has been drawn to a fresh submission.

The submission was lodged at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture by human rights lobby group Constitution, Accountability, State and Independence of the Judiciary of SA (Casisa) and implicates five KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) high court judges in the illegal sanctioning of money laundering worth R100 million 16 years ago.

According to the Casisa submission before Zondo, the five judges, whose names are known to The Citizen, were investigated by the Stellenbosch Magistrate’s Court for having been involved in the facilitation of organised crime that fleeced two British financial institutions and a local businessperson of millions of rands.

But no steps have been taken against them.

The judges, currently under British investigation, were identified last year by the Royal Court in Jersey as having enabled money laundering.

According to Casisa representative Justin Lewis, what triggered the probe was concerns emanating from the Stellenbosch report he drafted, which led to Western Cape High Court Judge President John Hlophe advising that the matter be referred to the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) and the Zondo commission “because it deals with the capture of a state organ”.

At the core of the case, said Lewis, was the matter of invisible international loans he said were considered legal by the KZN high court judges without the South African Reserve Bank’s opinion having been sought.

He explained: “The matter is about our courts legalising receipt of unidentified funds – which could include bribes if the recipient of these unlawful financial proceeds is deemed as having received ‘invisible loans’.

“No proof of evidence of the source is required when dealing with such monies.

“If no steps are taken against the judges who considered the funds legal, our courts are emasculated to go along with what has set a precedent in law.

“The implications of this for our constitutional democracy and fight against corruption by the Zondo commission are dire because the precedent set could be used by those who are recipients of proceeds of crime.

“It is also a threat to anti-money laundering efforts worldwide, a concern shared with our UK investigators.

“I am hopeful Zondo will see the horrible implications of this to our legal system because courts should help in the fight against corruption,” added Lewis.

He said the report was submitted to Zondo in support of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act 121 1998 (Poca) and the Financial Intelligence Centre Act 38 of 2001 (Fica), “on the alleged corruption of an organ of state”.

In an e-mail to Lewis, commission spokesperson Mbuyiselo Stemela acknowledged receipt of the Casisa submission, which he had forwarded to Zondo.

– brians@citizen.co.za

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