Saturday, December 18, 2010

MEC awards top job to former prosecutor

MEC awards top job to former prosecutor


A senior state prosecutor who presided over Northern Cape finance MEC John Block's 2003 corruption case - but botched it by failing to call the key whistle-blower to testify - has been rewarded with a top job by Block.


John Block Prins Oliver was one of two state prosecutors who handled the ANC provincial leader's case in 2003 after the Sunday Times revealed how he used taxpayers' money to attend a jazz festival and stay in a five-star hotel with his wife, Noluthando, in Cape Town.

And, up until recently, Oliver was also part of the National Prosecuting Authority team advising the state on the current R42-million corruption case against Block.

This is according to several senior NPA officials. However, Oliver denied this. He resigned as a senior advocate for the NPA in October to take up a job as the CEO of the Northern Cape liquor board, which falls under Block's department.

Block and eight others were arrested in early November by the Hawks for alleged tender fraud related to the purchase of water purifiers and oxygen generators for the Kimberley Hospital.

Oliver started his new R600000-a-year job on November 1.

The Sunday Times has now established that Oliver was responsible for allegedly failing to call the state's star witness, Glen Chase, to testify against Block in the 2003 case.

Chase, who was a senior state accountant in the department at the time, initially blew the whistle against Block and had submitted documented evidence to the prosecuting authority.

Block was acquitted, but was forced to resign as the MEC for transport, roads and public works after opposition parties put pressure on the ANC to give him the boot.

Oliver confirmed to the Sunday Times that he is the new CEO of the liquor board, but said he does not report to Block. He said: "I am not working in Block's office. Yes, the liquor board falls under his department. While it is true that I was one of the prosecutors on John's (Block) corruption case back then, I was not the senior prosecutor. The decision on whether or not to call Chase was not entirely on me."

Block is out on R100000 bail after he allegedly ensured that government officials awarded contracts worth more than R42-million for water and oxygen plants at grossly inflated prices to a Cape Town-based company, Intaka. Uruguayan businessman and Intaka CEO, Gaston Savoi, allegedly spent R16-million on bribes to Block and his other co-accused, with the money being disguised as "commissions". Savoi is also out on R100000 bail.

Block, who is still an MEC, was not available for comment yesterday.

No comments:

Post a Comment