VBS Mutual Bank.
VBS Mutual Bank.

VBS Mutual Bank’s former CFO, Philip Truter, who along with seven others is facing criminal charges in relation to the looting and collapse of the bank, appeared in court on Monday and was granted R50,000 bail.

Truter did not appear in court with his co-accused in June because he was in Covid-19 quarantine. He was arrested at the weekend.

The group, which includes VBS Mutual Bank’s top executives, is facing a combined 47 counts, including of racketeering, theft, fraud, corruption and money laundering.

These are the first arrests in almost two years since the Hawks’s investigation into the matter started in August 2018.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said Truter was planning on pleading guilty to the charges.

“Philip Truter has approached the state for negotiation with regards to his charges and has indicated that he intends to plead guilty. The prosecution team will indulge the accused,” spokesperson Sipho Ngwema said.

VBS Mutual Bank collapsed amid allegations that its executives looted almost R2bn they were supposed to be looking after on behalf of municipalities, stokvels and elderly people in Limpopo.

In March 2018, the Reserve Bank had VBS placed under curatorship after withdrawals by municipalities caused a cash crunch.

The Bank then appointed law firm Werksmans Attorneys and advocate Terry Motau to establish reasons for the bank’s failure. Municipalities in some of the country’s poorest areas with shoddy local services had about R1.2bn deposited at VBS when it went under.

Truter’s co-accused were arrested in June after a search and seizure operation.

Those arrested were the bank’s former chair, Tshifhiwa Matodzi; CEO Andile Ramavhunga; treasurer Phophi Mukhodobwane; former KPMG audit partner, who signed off on the bank’s allegedly falsified financial statements, Sipho Malaba; two former representatives of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) on the bank’s board, Paul Magula and Ernest Nesane; and Phalaphala Avhashoni Ramikosi, board member and former CFO of the SA Police Service.

The seven were granted R100,000 bail each.

The matter has been postponed to October 8, when Truter will join his co-accused in court.

quintalg@businesslive.co.za

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