Agribee Funds 'paid for Lifestyles'

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12 Nov 2009

Willie Hofmeyr, head of the special investigations unit of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), told MPs on Wednesday that the probe into Land Bank corruption has "significantly wider ramifications" than originally thought.

Hofmeyr is investigating allegations that more than R100m of Land Bank funds intended for AgriBEE beneficiaries was diverted to fund luxury purchases of property and lavish lifestyle items for politically connected individuals.

He made it clear to a joint meeting of Parliament's finance and agriculture committees: "As bank accounts and other records have been analysed it has become clear that there are other individuals that need to be looked at in what was going on here.

"And as an investigation like this unfolds, it is difficult to start approaching persons when you are not sure if they are a witness who may be able to help you or a potential accused person who has to be warned of their rights against self incrimination and so on."

Because the investigation has broadened, it is clear that money has gone through a number of different bank accounts. It is a slow process because getting hold of bank statements takes time. "These statements have been archived in huge warehouses," he explained.

"We are still waiting for the next round of statements to arrive."

Hofmeyr told the committees that given the scale of the investigation, it is important that everything should be done properly, but he asked for indulgence for the length of time it is taking. This is despite the fact that he has been able to increase the size of the team working on the cases, and that he has had help from the finance ministry in speeding up the response of the banks to his requests for information. – I-Net Bridge

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