Friday, March 25, 2011
Hawks probe top cops
SAM SOLE, STEFAANS BRüMMER & CRAIG MCKUNE JOHANNESBURG - Mar 25 2011 00:00
The Hawks are probing senior members of police crime intelligence over allegations that they interfered with the Hawks' investigation into Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir.
Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela would not comment. However, a source close to the Hawks, an intelligence source and a prosecuting authority official have all confirmed that the investigation centres on former Gauteng crime intelligence boss Joey Mabasa and the head of crime intelligence, General Richard Mdluli.
"You are phoning the wrong person," Mabasa told the Mail & Guardian. "I do not know anything about that; you must ask them [the Hawks]."
Mdluli could not be reached for comment.
The probe is understood to focus on allegations that crime intelligence engaged in extensive phone-tapping of Hawks members and others involved in the Krejcir investigation.
The issue of who motivated for this surveillance, who approved it and whether the information was passed on to Krejcir is a key focus of the investigation.
It is speculated that the reason advanced for the surveillance of a Hawks investigation would have been the allegation that it was being manipulated by private forensic investigator Paul O'Sullivan.
It is alleged that in at least one case, intercepted conversations found their way to targets of the Hawks' investigation, which includes not only Krejcir but a number of his associates.
Mabasa has previously been accused of holding meetings with Krejcir at Sandton's Michelangelo hotel, something the two men have denied.
The M&G revealed last year that Mabasa's wife and Krejcir's wife had set up a company together. Mabasa claimed he had been separated from his wife for the past 15 years, despite credit records showing that they had given the same home addresses for the past four years.
Mabasa was also the officer who claimed he received a telephonic confession from former Krejcir employee George Smith (aka Louka) after Smith had supposedly shot Lolly Jackson.
Furthermore, Mabasa took an active interest in the investigation into the disappearance and murder of German businessman Uwe Gemballa, although investigating officer Ludi Schnelle did not report to him.
It is believed that the Hawks' investigation also involves a probe into how a vital piece of evidence -- a laptop computer seized from Krejcir’s business manager, Ivan Savov -- later disappeared from Schnelle's office.
The laptop contained highly sensitive information about the financial aspects of Krejcir's South African operation and may have contained details of individuals he was paying or had paid.
The loss of the laptop led to Schnelle's transfer and his removal from the Gemballa investigation.
Krejcir, who disappeared just ahead of the Hawks raid on his home this week, appears adept at manipulating political and state institutions.
In court papers lodged in 2007, Krejcir admitted he had agreed to advance R20-million for the election campaign of a Czech presidential candidate in return for an expectation he would gain control of the state oil company should the candidate be successful.
In the Czech Republic his escape while detained by senior police officers led to a national scandal. At the time of going to press Krejcir was still at large, despite pleas from his lawyers to hand himself over to police.
Meanwhile, the M&G can reveal the SARS' raid on Krejcir’s Bedfordview mansion -- in which two of his cars were seized -- is part of a much wider investigation into the network around the Czech and his possible links with a major Balkan crime syndicate.
Krejcir has scoffed at the notion that he is some big Mafia boss. However, the M&G has been told that investigations are under way into suspected links between Krejcir, one of his business partners and a notorious Montenegran crime family centred on two brothers, Darko and Dusko Saric.
Serbian prosecutors have indicted Darko Saric and 19 of his associates for their alleged roles in an international cocaine smuggling operation. Saric's organisation allegedly smuggles cocaine from South America to Western Europe and is said to have earned €5-billion from the drug trade.
He allegedly paid Montenegro officials €1-million per shipment to turn a blind eye.
In October 2009 authorities seized 2.8 tonnes of cocaine from a ship that they believe belonged to Saric. Security for top Serbian officials was increased following reports that Saric's organisation was preparing to retaliate and kill several top state officials, including the president.
Darko is understood to have fled to Switzerland at the end of 2010, but his current whereabouts are not known.
The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, supported by M&G Media and the Open Society Foundation for South Africa, produced this story. All views are the centre’s. www.amabhungane.co.za.
Mail & Guardian
Comments by Sonny
This cancer should have been removed from our society a long time ago!
Pity for the connections on the "INSIDE!"
Sounds like the Mbeki moles at work!
Or are they JZ rats!
Krejcir hands himself over to Hawks
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - Mar 25 2011 06:40
Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir handed himself over to the Hawks in Johannesburg during the early hours of Friday morning.
"Krejcir's days on the run are over ... [He] handed himself over to the Hawks in Johannesburg in the early hours of this morning, and was immediately detained," spokesperson McIntosh Polela said in a statement.
"Krejcir played a cat and mouse game with law enforcement agencies. He made several appointments promising to hand himself over but repeatedly failed to do so," said Polela.
Krejcir's current whereabouts would not be revealed to the public, for his own safety, Polela said.
"The Hawks shall not reveal where Mr Krejcir is being kept, [and] the issue of his court appearance will come about as the day progresses. He will be charged with fraud."
Polela said Krejcir (42) was also being questioned on the death of alleged underworld boss Cyril Beeka, who was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in Bellville, Cape Town, earlier this week.
A hit list was found during a raid at Krejcir's house in Bedfordview, Johannesburg, on Tuesday night.
It included the names of Beeka, security consultant Paul O'Sullivan and a state prosecutor.
"The suspect had drawn up a hit list of four individuals," said Polela.
Beeka was allegedly at the top of the list.
Krejcir was not at home during the raid.
"The suspect allegedly claimed R4,5-million from an insurance company, after obtaining fraudulent medical documents showing that he had terminal cancer," Polela said earlier this week.
Since the raid, the Hawks had urged Krejcir to hand himself over to the police.
The South African Revenue Service (Sars) confiscated a Lamborghini and Ferrari belonging to Krejcir on Wednesday afternoon. - Sapa
TOPICS IN THIS ARTICLE
Krejcir asked to hand himself over
The murders: Five bodies and counting
Krejcir's lawyers mum for now
I am worried that this unspeakably sinister crook will soon be in the safety of a Schabir Shaik hospital, protected by those bodyguards he has not yet executed and, of course, by the Hawks.
They are the last I would trust in this matter -- not only because of the concerns expressed by the small majority of our Constitutional Court (the rest voting for the unprosecutable Cabinet). I don't trust their top officer, Anwa Dramat, because he came from the corrupt police chiefs of the Western Cape who arrested Helen Zille instead of the drug barons she pointed out. I was also concerned that Dramat, having grown up in the very townships where primary schoolchildren were infested with drugs, had found it impossible to make any arrests of drug barons -- before or after his appointment to the Hawks.
Don't forget that Italy has found it impossible to extradite mafia boss and drug baron Vito Palazzolo from our gangster state, and that another drug baron, Glenn Agliotti, went free after being implicated in the suicide/murder of Brett Kebble, whom the corrupted ANC carried to his grave.
Mail & Guardian
Comments by Sonny
The Balkan and MK connections!
16 NOV 2010 / 12:22
Montenegro Arrests Darko Saric's Brother
Dusko Saric, the brother of alleged crime boss Darko Saric, was detained in custody after being questioned last night by the Montenegrin police in Pljevlja.
Tanjug, Beta, B92
Joseph Mickovic, defense attorney for the Saric brothers, said that Dusko was arrested on a warrant from Italy, where he is charged with smuggling drugs, but the charges are not the same as those that Darko Saric faces.
The Montenegrin Supreme Prosecutor's Office has been informed of the arrest of Dusko Saric, and it will now decide whether the businessman will be retained and transferred to Italy.
Montenegrin daily Dan, citing police sources, reported that the arrest was related to a recent visit of Italian prosecutor Pietro Grasso to the country. Grasso is investigating the arrests in operation "Checkmate", among others.
Dusko Saric was taken into custody, local media reported, just days after Montenegro extradited Dusko Micunovic to Italy. Micunovic is allegedly one of the organisers of a group involved in international drug smuggling in that country.
Darko Saric, who is of Montenegrin origin but holds Serbian citizenship, is the alleged leader of an organised criminal group which is suspected of smuggling over 2.1 tons of high quality cocaine from South America to Europe. Saric is currently at large and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.
The Serbian prosecutor filed charges against Darko Saric and his associates in April this year.
Comments by Sonny
Mobster at the gates: The ugly saga of Radovan Krejcir
SAM SOLE DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - Sep 10 2010 08:56
The battle to get Czech fugitive and alleged crime boss Radovan Krejcir out of South Africa is heating up.
Last week the South Gauteng High Court overturned a 2008 decision by Kempton Park magistrate Stephen Holzen, who had refused to extradite Krejcir to the Czech Republic, where he has been convicted of fraud and kidnapping and faces other charges.
The court said Holzen should have recused himself from the extradition hearing. The magistrate appeared to have prejudged the matter during a 2007 bail hearing, when he called the state's case "certainly questionable".
At the extradition hearing Holzen accepted Krejcir's claim that there was a conspiracy against him in the Czech Republic, flowing from Krejcir's allegations that he had funded the election campaign of former prime minister Stanislav Gross.
Now the high court has ordered the extradition application to be reheard.
But Krejcir is unlikely to be easily dislodged. The Czech has deep pockets -- one law enforcement officer says he brought "really big money" into the country -- though the origin of his fortune, believed to run into hundreds of millions of rands, remains obscure.
The Mail & Guardian attempted to check whether this money had been declared to the South African Reserve Bank, but the bank cited secrecy provisions. Nevertheless, Krejcir has used the cash to surround himself with an army of lawyers, minders and fixers.
That investment paid off last month when Krejcir was "tipped off" about confidential plans by the Hawks to arrest him on charges of having fraudulently obtained his temporary permit as an "asylum-seeker".
Krejcir's lawyers, including prominent attorney Ian Small-Smith and immigration specialist Chris Watters, rushed an application to the high court to interdict any such move.
Krejcir claimed that on August 10 he was phoned by a man with an Afrikaans accent and warned that a senior home affairs official had sworn an affidavit that would be used to arrest Krejcir and deport him.
Curiously, the state attorney's office agreed to a court order preventing further proceedings against Krejcir in relation to his allegedly unlawful presence in South Africa.
The interdict remains in force pending Krejcir's asylum appeal to the Refugee Appeal Board, due to be heard in November.
Not the devil
In recent weeks Krejcir has run a media campaign to get his "side of the story" told. Interviews were headlined: "Krejcir: I am no angel. But I'm not the devil" and "Krejcir scoffs at 'Mafia boss' claims".
He also offered the M&G an interview but failed to answer detailed written questions, despite an undertaking delivered through his associate, Jerome Safi.
Krejcir and Safi both told the media about receiving frequent phone calls from George Smith, also known as Louka, the man sought by police in connection with the killing of strip-club owner Lolly Jackson.
Smith, who they say is hiding in Cyprus, disappeared after allegedly calling Gauteng crime intelligence boss Joey Mabasa and confessing to the killing.
Notwithstanding Krejcir's protestations of innocence, the list of dead or missing people who have been somehow associated with him is growing.
Lambert Krejcir, owner of a printing business, was abducted in 2002 while his son Radovan was in Czech detention.
Krejcir claims his father was killed by state agents trying to force him to hand over documents incriminating prime minister Gross.
But in 2006 Czech police arrested local football boss Jaroslav Starka and some of his business partners for the killing. Police suspected that Starka and his associates kidnapped Lambert to force his son to pay debts owed to them, but that the elder Krejcir may have suffered a heart attack.
Starka, himself linked to Czech organised-crime figures, including Frantisek Mrazek, was released on bail and the case remains open.
Mrazek was murdered in a professional "hit" in January 2006, for which one Czech publication pointed fingers at Krejcir, saying he blamed Mrazek for his father's death. Krejcir has dismissed any connection to the killing.
The Lolly connection
Allegations in an affidavit suggest Jackson was externalising millions of rands in undeclared cash using the Laiki bank of Cyprus and its representative in South Africa, Alekos Panayi.
Panayi would apparently find locals with money offshore that they wanted to "surface" in South Africa and would arrange a cash swap with Jackson. Panayi says he was introduced to Krejcir by George Smith, who got to know Krejcir when they shared a cell after Krejcir was arrested on an Interpol notice when entering South Africa in 2007.
Krejcir and Jackson did a R1-million deal using Smith as an intermediary, as Krejcir could not transact in his own name. When Krejcir withheld part-payment, Jackson is said to have blamed Panayi and threatened him.
In December 2009 Panayi spilled the beans to the authorities about Jackson and Krejcir's alleged money laundering, but before the investigation got very far, Jackson was shot dead, allegedly by Smith.
Smith disappeared, but is alleged to be in Cyprus, from where he supposedly calls Krejcir regularly. Krejcir told Beeld that Czech intelligence had tried to bribe Smith to implicate Krejcir in Jackson's murder.
Cars and cash
Uwe Gemballa, a German, carried out performance upgrades of Porsche and Ferrari cars for the super-rich. He went missing after arriving at OR Tambo airport on February 8 this year.
A former business associate of Krejcir, Juan Meyer, claims that Krejcir told him he was using cars imported with the assistance of Gemballa to smuggle cash into South Africa.
But, claims Meyer, when a Porsche was imported in September last year, the cash was missing. Meyer claims he overheard an angry phone exchange between Krejcir and Gemballa about the money.
Krejcir has dismissed Meyer as a nut and denies any connection with Gemballa's disappearance. He told M-Net's Carte Blanche: "I never see ... Uwe Gemballa."
However, Krejcir's associate Safi confirms that he, Safi, was in contact with Gemballa about setting up a franchise of the Gemballa sports car business in South Africa.
Safi said that another Krejcir associate, security consultant Cyril Beeka, was also set to be involved in the project, which Krejcir was to finance, but that Gemballa never made contact with them after his arrival in South Africa.
The M&G has seen copies of correspondence with Gemballa from a "Jerome Saphire" about setting up such a franchise. Krejcir did not respond to questions about whether Gemballa was aware of his connection with Saphire. Beeka declined to respond to questions.
Krejcir appears to have inserted himself in the local underworld. He claims that people are simply drawn to his money.
Smith, apparently a Cypriot national whose South African citizenship bears scrutiny, helped Krejcir establish himself in Bedfordview, where he bought a R20-million mansion, using Smith as a front to transfer some of the money through Panayi, a self-confessed money-launderer.
In Bedfordview Krejcir also befriended Jackson, who shared his obsession with fast cars, and was considering buying Jackson's Teazers empire. He allegedly held several meetings with Jackson's arch-rival, Andrew Phillips, another strip merchant.
Krejcir was also, according to Meyer and other sources, going into commodity trading with Beeka.
Beeka, a former ANC intelligence operative, is a long-time security consultant to the RAM courier group, which specialises in delivering high-value packages, such as diamonds. Beeka declined to comment on his relationship with Krejcir.
Krejcir was taken on as a client by Small-Smith, who also represented members of the "bouncer gang" implicated in Brett Kebble's murder.
After the Jackson shooting, Krejcir claimed he had ended his relationship with Smith because of the latter's alcohol and drug abuse.
But Krejcir revealed to Carte Blanche that he was at the Harbour Café in Bedfordview when Smith came in and confessed to killing Jackson.
No one took him seriously, Krejcir claims, and Smith left when he could not find Mabasa, the Gauteng crime intelligence chief who had once been his handler.
Krejcir and the cop
But Krejcir also established a connection with Mabasa, saying his attorney, Small-Smith, had introduced him to the policeman when Krejcir feared being kidnapped.
However, the M&G established that the wives of Krejcir and Mabasa had registered a company together.
Mabasa claimed he was initially unaware of this and that he and his wife were separated, a claim not supported by circumstantial evidence. Krejcir claims the link with Mabasa's wife was innocent and the company never traded.
Meyer has alleged that he was present on two occasions when Mabasa was given bags that he, Meyer, believed contained cash. Krejcir has denied this, claiming that Meyer never attended any meeting with Mabasa.
The mysterious Mr Meyer
Juan Meyer's story is remarkable and details are set out in an affidavit provided to the M&G.
Meyer, who owns the Pan African Refineries plant near Krugersdorp, shot to public notice when he was arrested in Sandton in May during the transportation of R20-million in gold, due for shipment to Hong Kong.
In court, Meyer, apparently a former member of the security police, claimed he had a licence to trade in gold and his arrest was harassment and linked to his fallout with Krejcir.
He is out on R100 000 bail and the case has been postponed until October. But the M&G understands that the arrest was a high-level operation involving both the police and the South African Revenue Service.
Meyer is in dispute with the Sars over R32-million in VAT claims. It appears that Sars, in turn, is pursuing an investigation of alleged VAT fraud and gold smuggling.
Meyer's arrest apparently prompted him to seek the assistance of private investigator Paul O'Sullivan, to whom he supplied an affidavit setting out his involvement with Krejcir.
Meyer says he was introduced to Krejcir by George Mihaljevic, of the Sandton Gold and Diamond Exchange, as a potential investor in his refinery business.
Meyer says Krejcir introduced Beeka to the mix, who took them to an investment company called Continental Integrated Services, run by Hershel Maasdorp.
Maasdorp, who says Beeka was "a colleague" and his former karate instructor, confirms the meetings with Krejcir and Meyer, but claims he was involved only peripherally. Maasdorp claims the financial figures presented by Meyer for his refinery were "too good to be true", leading him to suspect that the smuggling of gold dust was involved.
Maasdorp's former partner, Luke Kirsten, says he was never given enough information to perform a proper due diligence, but did not like what he was being dragged into. He said the proposed deal led to his breaking ties with Maasdorp.
According to Meyer, what was being proposed was the use of the gold refinery and the licence to trade gold across borders as a "front" for money-laundering.
Neither Krejcir nor Beeka have responded to this allegation. Maasdorp says he "never got any sense" that the proposal was a laundering scheme.
The deal fell through when Meyer's Swiss banker refused to continue dealing with Meyer if he was involved with Krejcir.
Meyer also alleges he was present during at least one meeting, in about May last year, involving Krejcir and convicted drug smuggler Glenn Agliotti. Says Meyer: "Present at the meeting were Cyril Beeka, Radovan, Glenn and his lawyer, Seef Botha ... There was about 50kg of gold in Zambia and Radovan would finance the purchase of the gold, and I was needed to assist Seef to put the necessary papers together."
Krejcir failed to respond to a question about his relationship with Agliotti, but another state security source confirmed that the two men were in contact.
Botha denied ever meeting Krejcir or Beeka, but did confirm another meeting where Meyer was briefly present.
He also confirmed that a gold trading company was to have been set up, called United Minerals and Energy (UME), involving Agliotti and businessmen Tom and Johann Marx.
Botha said he travelled to Zambia and Kenya to register the company and that they concluded a refining agreement with the Al Ghurair refinery in Dubai.
Agliotti was to have brought in investors, but never came up with the money, says Botha, adding that the "whole thing died a quiet death" in about November last year.
The M&G has established that an associate of Agliotti, Jacques Nel, appears to have described himself in his internet profile as a director of UME.
In December 2009 UME's Zambian associate, Dan Pule, accused some Zambian associates of swindling UME out of a deposit of $42 000 by supplying fake gemstones.
According to the Zambian Post, one of those accused in turn claimed that Pule had assisted them to bring gold into the country through the Chirundu border with Zimbabwe.
This article was produced by amaBhungane, investigators of the M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit initiative to enhance capacity for investigative journalism in the public interest. www.amabhungane.co.za.
Comments by Sonny
This is where the Security Police connection comes into the saga!