Agrizzi wants Bosasa liquidators to be investigated, charged for alleged fraud

Former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi wants the company’s liquidators to be investigated and criminally charged. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/African News Agency (ANA)

Former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi wants the company’s liquidators to be investigated and criminally charged. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Nov 26, 2023


FORMER Bosasa chief operating officer, Angelo Agrizzi, wants the companies appointed in the liquidation process of Bosasa to be investigated and charged for alleged fraud and misrepresentation.

Agrizzi requested that the government institute a Section 381(2) inquiry into liquidating the African Global Operations (formerly known as Bosasa).

He added that the liquidators should also be removed.

This after Agrizzi wrote to the Department of Justice, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), the Human Rights Commission, Treasury and the Office of the Public Protector to institute the inquiry against the liquidators, and their directors and shareholders last year.

The liquidators appointed are Sechaba Trust and co-liquidators Ralph Lutchman and Cloete Murray.

However, Agrizzi said their appointment was irregular.

Agrizzi shocked the public when he appeared before the State Capture Inquiry in 2019 and revealed allegations of corruption involving Bosasa’s executive, government officials and ANC members.

He was also implicated in the claims and was arrested in October 2020, alongside former ANC member of Parliament Vincent Smith, who allegedly received more than R800 000 in bribes while he was chairperson of the Department of Correctional Services committee between 2009 and 2014.

Agrizzi said nothing had happened since his request for an inquiry against the liquidators.

Asked to confirm the receipt of the request, the Department of Justice and the SIU did not respond.

Human Rights Commission spokesperson Wisani Baloyi said questions were shared with the Gauteng provincial manager. Pubic Protector spokesperson Ndili Msoki said he would consult he office and revert back to the Sunday Independent.

Treasury said the office of the chief procurement officer does not have record of such correspondence.

Agrizzi also asked the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) to criminally charge the liquidators for contravening the Companies Act.

In his affidavit, submitted in February this year, Agrizzi said he was concerned there was a conflict of interest and dishonesty in the process. He set out the involvement of Sechaba Trust, Ralph Lutchman and Cloete Murray in the liquidation proceedings of Bosasa and its entities.

Agrizzi said Sechaba Trust allegedly had a member of Parliament, Dr Mathole Motshekga, who had not declared his interest, and that, he said, was in contravention of the rules of Parliament.

He said Motshekga, who allegedly owned 54% of Sechaba Trust, used his influence and power to secure appointments from the master’s office.

Agrizzi said Motshekga allegedly misled Parliament and his office when he declared that his shareholding amounted to 20%.

“It has become apparent that as it appears MP Dr M Motshekga has used his influence in order to obtain favour, especially given the fact that Sars (the SA Revenue Service) is averse to furthering business top Sechaba, given the fact that Cloete Murray is, in fact, a defaulter,” read the affidavit.

Agrizzi said he also related to Lutchman's involvement in the initial voluntary liquidation as well as the “touting” by pre-populating employees nomination forms to secure the position as the liquidator.

He said Lutchman, in concert with the Bosasa directors and Gavin Watson, intentionally misrepresented and induced employees into signing the requisition forms that would appoint Lutchman as the preferred liquidator.

“I find it very difficult to understand that the master's office, having been made aware of the misconduct by Lutchman and the intentional voluntary liquidation to cover up the malfeasance that we exposed at the State Capture Commission of inquiry, would have allowed Lutchaman to remain as a co-liquidator.

“We had been informed that the late Gavin Watson had already, in November 2018, contemplated voluntary liquidation, in an attempt to allow for him to cover up the malfeasance. I had been reliably informed that Gavin Watson and the directors had appointed a certain Danie Potgieter as the attorney to manage a voluntary liquidation,” said Agrizzi.

MacRobert Attorneys director Nelia Wessels, who said her law firm represents the liquidators, did not respond.

The master’s office also did not respond.

Motshekga did not respond to questions sent on Wednesday. Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said the MPs declaration was available on parliamentary website.

Although the shares percentage is not published, Matshekga declared that he has a business partnership with Sechaba Trust and other businesses such as Mukoni Trust Investment Holding Pty (Ltd), Kara Heritage Institute, Valovedu Development Angency (NPO) and Southern Africa Interfaith Council (NPO).

Agrizzi said Cloete Murray also misrepresented himself in order to gain access to substantive material that he wanted to use to position himself as the main liquidator. He said that was after Murray unethically used to tout for business.

Agrizzi said he later realised that Sars launched an investigation against Murray, adding that he also had a R2.6 million judgment against him with Standard Bank.

He added that despite the fact that Bosasa was involved in corruption, it was a highly successful and profitable business, and that there was no need to liquidate it.

When Agrizzi left the company in 2016, it had reflected in excess of a R250m pre-tax profit. He said the company also had substantial investments paid for in manganese mining worth more than R350m and an investment of R80m in a copper plant.

“What is evident is that there was malfeasance and the fact that the erstwhile attorney, appointed to manage liquidation, Mr Danie Potgieter, after appearing at the 417 inquiry, chose to commit suicide in the afternoon following his appearance.”

On the other hand, Watson’s nephew, Jared, said Agrizzi’s complaint showed a fundamental misunderstanding of how liquidation works.

“How is it possible that by liquidating one can ‘cover-up’ anything? By its very nature, to enter into liquidation is to dissolve yourself of your control over your company and place it under the administration of someone else, and to ultimately publicise your company’s affairs.

“That said, it is actually Agrizzi himself who has been pursued by all of the liquidators of Bosasa, Sars, the NPA, and even the Italian government, for money laundering, tax evasion, theft and fraud.”

However, Agrizzi denied the allegations, saying Jared had on numerous occasions made spurious untested statements from “me murdering his uncle, to statement that his uncle was not the mastermind at Bosasa”.

“Specific to the claims made - It is true that Sars pursued me, thy did so vehemently claiming I owed R234 million. It became an exercise of note. Sars even tried to force a repatriation on the families assets., which Sars lost. The ruling made set a principle in tax law, and on both my applications were awarded full cost.

The facts regarding Sars is that no fraud could be found, and a letter issued out that I was not found involved in any collusion our corruption. No tax evasion could be found or motivated,“ he said.

The facts regarding Sars is that no fraud could be found, and a letter issues out that I was not found involved in any collusion our corruption. No tax evasion could be found or motivated.

He added that the Italian prosecution team did not at any stage lay charges against him. Agrizzi whilst the NPA were insistent that he was involved in crime, the Italian counterparts could find nothing that would warrant an additional investigation.

“The law in Italy ha a decree that allows persons not charged after the mandatory period to gain full access to the dockets as well as all the notes and paraphernalia. It is untoward the allegations made by the South Africa NPA.

The senior prosecutor Italian Dottore SF is seen on numerous occasions telling NPA that there is nothing contravening Italian and international law in my matter,“ he said.

Agrizzi also added: “ In response to a voluntary liquidations, this provides the ideal opportunity to use liquidations as a mechanism to cover up and attribute blame. In a voluntary liquidation such as what was originally proposed any Bosasa the directors can chose the liquidator of choice, once that is arranged the liquidator is beholden to the principles that appointed him.

The question is simply why did Bosasa pay the erstwhile appointed attorneys upfront payments exceeding R35 million if this was a normal liquidation, and why if there was nothing untoward did Watson and his directors fight tooth and nail to regain control of the asset. Simply put because they wanted to retain the company but sanitise the records,“ said Agrizzi.