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Malema blew R3m through his trust

Mar 04 2012 11:16 Adriaan Basson and Xolani Mbanjwa

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Johannesburg - Expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema is a Gucci millionaire and not “poor” as he claims.

As Malema’s political career draws to a close, City Press can reveal that in 2010 alone, different donors deposited more than R3m into Malema’s Ratanang Family Trust, which is currently the subject of a criminal investigation by the Hawks.

With his options of remaining in the ANC running out fast, focus now shifts to at least four investigations into Malema’s financial affairs and business interests.

The Hawks, public protector, South African Revenue Service (Sars) and the Master of the High Court are finalising forensic investigations into the extent of Malema’s wealth and the role of his family trust in benefiting from Limpopo government tenders.

City Press can reveal that more than R2m of the deposits into Malema’s trust in 2010 were made in cash.

In the same year, withdrawals and payments of more than R3m were made from the trust. Two recipients of money from Malema’s trust were Gucci clothing and the five-star Twelve Apostles hotel in Cape Town.

The information was corroborated by two independent sources with direct knowledge of Malema’s affairs.

The only beneficiary of the trust is Malema’s son and all transactions are legally supposed to benefit him.

Malema and his grandmother, Sarah, are the trustees.

Earning more than R3m a year places Malema among the country’s top earners.

Although their packages were propped up by performance bonuses, Malema’s income through the trust was on a par with the salaries of Investec chief executive Stephen Koseff, who, according to the Sunday Times rich list, drew a salary of R3.5m in 2010; Mvelaphanda head Mikki Xayiya with R3.2m, and Basil Read’s Marius Heyns, who earned a salary of R3.1m in 2010.

The ANC’s national disciplinary committee expelled Malema from the governing party this week, after it found he had threatened the party and held it to ransom.

As Malema’s career as an ANC politician draws to a close, investigations into his affairs by the police, the Public Protector, Sars and the Master of the High Court continue.

Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela said their investigation is ongoing, but would not give details. “We will issue statements only when the investigation is concluded. We will not give a blow-by-blow account,” he said.

Justice department spokesperson Tlali Tlali said although the master has not finalised his investigation into the trust, “significant ground has been covered”.

Malema and his grandmother have cooperated with the master’s office and the probe is expected to be concluded “in the next few weeks”.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has already stopped On-Point Engineering – a private firm partly owned by Malema’s trust – from adjudicating roads and transport tenders in Limpopo.

On-Point was awarded a R51m tender by the Limpopo roads and transport department in 2009 to manage a “project management unit” that designs, implements and oversees roads projects in the province.

Madonsela told City Press this week she had hoped to finalise her report into tenders awarded to companies in which Malema has an interest by the beginning of March, but was still busy.

“The investigation is at an advanced stage, but we have not been able to meet our deadline because it is a forensic investigation that involves a whole lot of documents.

"We have extended the deadline because we want to ensure that everything is explained on paper and in writing.

“We will release an interim report, not for public consumption, by the end of March or hopefully in the middle of March,” said Madonsela.

City Press understands that Malema and his lawyers are in discussions with Sars about tax compliance issues affecting his trust and business interests linked to the trust.

Southern Africa Report quoted sources last month saying sufficient evidence had been gathered to charge Malema with tax evasion and money laundering.

It reported Malema’s personal tax affairs were now in order after he was given a year to sort out paperwork and pay funds owed to Sars, but his businesses were in trouble.

“The forensic teams going through his and other ANC politicians’ business interests in Limpopo with a fine-tooth comb have discovered several violations of regulations governing trusts.

"They are also understood to have established a paper trail linking shell companies to Malema’s trust, with what could be instances of money laundering,” the journal reported.

City Press revealed the existence of the trust in July last year. Before that, Malema claimed he was “poor but creditworthy” and that he lived from “handouts” from people like Limpopo premier Cassel Mathale.

A businessman told City Press he had to pay money into the trust after Malema assisted him to obtain a Limpopo government tender. Property developer David Mabilu and building material supplier Steve Bosch have been identified as other benefactors of the trust.

City Press calculated that Malema needed at least a salary of R123 000 per month to sustain his lavish lifestyle. His salary from the ANC is rumoured to have been R50 000 or less per month.

Malema’s spokesperson Floyd Shivambu previously told City Press he would not respond to “futile fishing expeditions” by the newspaper

 - City Press

julius malema  |  ratanang family trust
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