Johannesburg - Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies
told parliament on Tuesday he intends to cancel an allegedly fraudulent R154m
contract awarded by the Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office
(Cipro) for a new IT system. He will also lay criminal charges against the
Addressing the public accounts committee (Scopa), Davies confirmed
Cipro CEO Keith Sendwe and CIO Michael Twum-Darko have been told lawyers are
preparing a criminal case against them for their role in manipulating Cipro
systems to ensure that a little-known company - ValorIT - had privileged access
Despite ValorIT's bid being R90m more than competing
bidders, it won the tender after what allegedly appeared to be a manipulation
of tender committee score sheets.
While Scopa MPs slammed the department of public enterprises
as well as Cipro for a "cavalier approach to procurement", Davies
also disclosed that a forensic audit he had commissioned into this contract had
confirmed "a pattern of relationships" between Sendwe,
Twun-Darko, ValorIT and a sub-contractor, Mantra Consulting. Mantra
consulting recently won a high court order against ValorIT.
checks carried out
During more than four hours of intense interrogation by MPs
on Scopa, it was also disclosed how absolutely no background checks were performed
on ValorIT, its track record or its financial status and ability to deliver on
such a contract.
Furthermore, 10 days after being awarded the contract, Cipro
paid it R56m. Although this was questioned by some executives, Twum-Darko is
alleged to have insisted the payment be made after explaining that it was for a
box of CDs containing software.
"Just that alone should have raised a red flag, with a
supplier being paid a record amount of money [about a third of the total
contract value] in record time," Davies said.
He assured parliament steps were being taken to ensure the
money stayed in the country.
Davies said he noticed things were going wrong at Cipro at
the end of 2009 and, when he was not satisfied with the answers he was being
given by Cipro, he decided to look into the matter more thoroughly.
While the findings of the forensic report - which apparently
showed much more than expected – will not be made public by Davies, he promised
Scopa that all additional information gleaned from MPs would be acted upon.