Cipro bosses cover butts
Officials 'tried to censor forensic audit findings'
May 9, 2010 11:11 PM | By NKULULEKO NCANA
A bitter fight over who should take the fall for millions being stolen from the government to fund terrorism has begun in the department of trade and industry.
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quote Officers 'told of infiltration' more than a year ago quote
The Sunday Times revealed that Pakistani criminals used the corruption and chaos within the Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office (Cipro) to get away with tax fraud, money laundering, racketeering, organised crime, fraud and the financing of international terrorism.
A report into Cipro by forensic investigators commissioned by the department says "numerous" Pakistanis were involved in the scheme, which relied on corrupt officials in the organisation.
One of the Pakistanis in custody in Gauteng, Aliraza Syed Naqvi, is suspected of links to Al Qaeda - which brought down the twin towers of New York City's World Trade Centre in September 2001.
It has emerged that the report has unsettled DTI director-general Tshidiso Matona and his deputy, Zodwa Ntuli, who are the accounting officers of Cipro.
Revelations of the cancer within Cipro, the integrity and efficiency of which is vital to the smooth running of the economy, have sparked bitter infighting between Matona and Ntuli, who are said to be at each other's throat about who should carry the can for the large-scale fraud and corruption.
An insider said: "The truth of the matter is that the heart-beat of our country's economy was infiltrated by terrorists, and this happened on their watch. The situation is untenable and heads are going to roll on this one. The question is, which one?"
The Times can today reveal how Matona insisted in a letter to the forensic investigators that changes be made to their report that would absolve him from being blamed for the rot in Cipro and for the possibility that it had been infiltrated by terrorists.
He allegedly tried to persuade the investigators to make substantial changes to the report, including deleting the references to terror financing.
The report said the Pakistanis used fake South African identity documents obtained from the department of home affairs.
It has also emerged that Ntuli, who was the project leader of the forensic audit, prematurely pulled the plug on the investigators when she learned of the extent of the rot in Cipro that they were uncovering.
She has denied this and insisted that the investigators "completed their mandate".
It is also alleged that Matona and Ntuli were told more than a year ago of the possibility that Cipro had been infiltrated by terrorists.
The police, the National Intelligence Agency, the SA Secret Service and US officials are "vigorously engaged in gathering intelligence on possible terrorism links".
The private forensic report said that tens of thousands of fake or dubious companies had been created through abuse of the Cipro system, including the "cloning" [a form of identity theft] of the international IT company Sun Microsystems.
Probably with the help of corrupt officials of the SA Revenue Service, tax refunds owing to the legitimate Sun Microsystems were diverted into the bank account of the fake company and then sent abroad.
* The private forensic report also reveals new evidence implicating Cipro CEO Keith Sendwe - who has been on indefinite sick leave since January - in the apparently corrupt awarding of a R153-million IT contract for an enterprise content management system last year. Matona allegedly instructed the investigators to pin the blame for the tender on Sendwe and not on the "accounting officer".
On April 23, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies released a separate report into Cipro by the auditor-general that also raised questions about the tender and called for action against the officials involved in awarding it.