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Murder accused linked to money transfer to Gupta-linked firm in Hong Kong

Jun 12 2019 14:39
Jan Cronje

A man accused of the murder of 'Steroid King' Brian Wainstein in Cape Town in 2017 was in the same year under investigation by the SA Reserve Bank for allegedly transferring money illegally to a Gupta-linked shelf company in Hong Kong.  

This is included in an affidavit by Shiwa Mazibuko, the head of the financial surveillance department at the central bank. Mazibuko was on Monday testifying before the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture about the bank's probe of Gupta-linked advisory firm Homix and related matters. 

In his affidavit, Mazibuko said the arrest of brothers Sheldon and Matthew Breet in 2017 for the murder of Wainstein delayed the bank's probe into suspicious movements of money from South Africa to an offshore Gupta-linked company. The Breets were previously Wainstein's bodyguards.

Matthew Breet in 2018 accepted a plea deal for Wainstein's murder and was sentenced in 20 years in jail, as News24 reported at the time. The trial of Sheldon Breet, who is mentioned in Mazibuko's affidavit as allegedly using false documents to try to send money to the Hong Kong company, has not yet commenced. 

Homix

Previous evidence before the inquiry revealed that Homix was a shelf company affiliated to Gupta business associate Salim Essa. It was allegedly set up solely in order to receive facilitation fees from Transnet contracts. It is currently being deregistered for not submitting annual returns.  

Homix notably received a R41m 'success' fee in 2015 after telecommunications firm Neotel was awarded a R1.8bn network services contract with state-owned port and freight rail operator Transnet. An auditor from Deloitte described Homix as a firm "without substance" in testimony before the commission. 

Mazibuko on Monday testified that in May 2015 a Homix account at Mercantile Bank started sending tens of millions of rands to two Hong Kong companies; Morningstar International Trade Limited and the YKA International Trading Company. In total R51.8m was transferred within one week. 

Mercantile Bank informed the Reserve Bank about what it viewed as suspicious transactions. When Homix tried to send an additional amount of R14.4m offshore, the central bank blocked the transfer. The money was later forfeited.

Bank account wakes up 

In August 2016, 15 months after the first flurry of activity, the Reserve Bank again noticed that money was being sent to the Morningstar account. 

"An investigation into these transactions revealed that false documentation was presented to the relevant bank in support of these transactions and that Mr Sheldon Jared Breet had played a pivotal role in supplying same".

In May 2017 the bank froze Breet's bank account and readied to launch an investigation.

But while this investigation was ongoing, news broke that Sheldon and Matthew Breet had been arrested for murder.

- Additional reporting by Jenna Ethridge and Tammy Peterson. 

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