18 October 2018

South Africa: VBS Scandal - Parliament's Ethics Committee to Investigate Floyd Shivambu's Role

Parliament's joint ethics committee is to investigate EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu's possible conflict of interest in payments he received from his younger brother, Brian Shivambu, as part of the ongoing "VBS heist" scandal.

The Democratic Alliance's (DA) Phumzile van Damme laid a complaint with the Committee on Ethics and Members' Interests after Shivambu, through his brother, was named among those accused of large-scale looting at VBS Mutual Bank.

In her letter to the DA, Acting Registrar of Members' Interests, advocate Anthea Gordon, confirmed that "the matter is being attended to and you will be notified of the outcome of the investigation once the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members' Interests has decided on the matter".

Van Damme welcomed the speed with which the committee came to a decision, and wants the hearing to be open to the public. The committee can call witnesses, summons any person to appear before it to give evidence on oath or affirmation, and summon any person to produce any relevant documents.

This follows last week's revelations of large-scale looting at VBS Mutual Bank in a report titled "The Great Bank Heist". The report, compiled by advocate Terry Motau and Werksmans Attorneys, was released last Wednesday.

In the report, the younger Shivambu was identified as one of those alleged to have received money from the bank in a "looting scheme" involving R1.8bn. He is said to have received R16m.

Then, on Thursday, the Daily Maverick reported that of that R16m, about R10m found its way to Floyd, and R1.33m to the EFF.

News24 reported on Friday that Floyd hadn't declared anything in Parliament's register of members' interests since he became an MP in 2014.

On Tuesday, the EFF had a press conference where Floyd and EFF president Julius Malema denied any impropriety and suggested there was a campaign to discredit them by a "rogue unit", led by the South Africa Revenue Service (SARS) and Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan.

Floyd said allegations that he had received R10m were "insanity" and "madness".

They did, however, reveal that there were payments between the Shivambu brothers.

On Tuesday, Malema confirmed that as brothers, there were numerous transactions between Floyd and Brian Shivambu.

In the South African Reserve Bank's VBS Mutual Bank heist report, Brian is said to have received R16m from the bank "without an apparent cause" and it was further alleged in media reports that evidence existed that Floyd received R10m of that money.

"We look forward to the investigation and if any wrongdoing is found, the harshest sanction [will] be meted out against Shivambu on behalf of the thousands of poor people whose money was stolen in the VBS heist," Van Damme said.

Van Damme earlier called on the Hawks to investigate Floyd, and called on him to undergo a lifestyle audit.

Van Damme's complaint to the ethics committee is based on Clause 5.2 of the parliamentary Code of Conduct, which "makes provision for a member, or their immediate family member to not accept any reward, benefit or gift from any person or body that creates a direct conflict or business interest for such member".

She said earlier that even if Floyd did not receive this money, he should at the very least have declared it at the commencement of parliamentary portfolio committees when the bank was discussed.

"This is a violation of Rule 30 of the Rules of the National Assembly which state that 'if a member has a personal or private financial or business interest in any matter before a forum of the assembly of which he or she is a member, he or she must at the commencement of engagement on the matter by the forum immediately declare that interest in accordance with the code of conduct contained in the schedule to the joint rules and comply with the other provisions of the code'," she said in an earlier statement.

"Furthermore, if Shivambu did indeed receive payments from VBS, they are in contravention of [the] Members' Code of Conduct as there is no [record] that he declared these monies in the 2015-2017 Declaration of Members' Interests and Payments in Parliament."

Source: News24

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