how fat cats looted land bank billions
12 November 2007
Top Land Bank officials siphoned off more than R2-billion meant for farmers to fund their close friends and business associates’ luxury golf estates, a sugar mill, equestrian estates and residential developments. This massive fraud was revealed in a damning forensic audit by Deloitte that was handed to the Cabinet this week by the Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs, Lulu Xingwana.
The extent of the fraud has forced Cabinet to call for the Land Bank board to be fired and for criminal charges to be brought against virtually the entire top executive who were implicated in the forensic probe. Xingwana is set to announce a new board this week.
The audit revealed that:
Former Land Bank CEO Alan Mukoki and his executives had deviated from the Land Bank’s mandate without board the approval of Didiza and funded companies that had nothing to do with agriculture;
Three different law firms had advised the Land Bank against using tax payers’ money to fund golf estates.
More than R300-million was given to a company called Amber Mountain Investments to develop an upmarket equestrian estate in the KwaZulu-Natal north coast. Another multimillion-rand golf estate was developed in Midrand using money from the Land Bank. Amber Mountain features prominent businessman Abe Maduna and Paul Baloyi, the CEO of the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA), as directors .
Mukoki’s Executive Assistant and then Acting Head of Internal Audit Daryl Rose also had financial interest in the companies that benefited from the loans. This includes a company called Northern Jungle Trading, which was granted a R247-million loan by the Land Bank to develop a golf estate in the Vaal area.
And more, read the full article.
The audit recommended that Mukoki, his executives and one member of the board should face criminal charges. Mukoki resigned in July, a month before the auditors submitted their final report. Mukoki yesterday denied any wrongdoing.
He claimed that Deloitte had not signed the report submitted to the board. He admitted that he had deviated from the Land Bank’s mandate without the minister’s approval.
"It was a strategy and a tactic to enable the bank to generate sufficient resources so that it can deliver of its development mandate. The Bank was poor and making losses. We wanted to make it profitable."
To read the full article about the Auditors findings, LandBank executive comments click here.
Wisani wa ka Ngobeni and Mpumelelo Mkhabela , www.thetimes.co.za