Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Hawks bust R40m lease scam

Hawks bust R40m lease scam

October 2 2013

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Johannesburg - The Hawks claim to have smashed a syndicate that allegedly swindled the national Department of Public Works into paying more than R40 million for six Joburg buildings it never occupied.

Over five years, starting in 2006, wealthy businessman Sayed Hoosen Mia, 67, and an official of the department, Desmond Simamane, 45, are alleged to have duped his bosses into leasing buildings owned by Mia and getting kickbacks from the businessman for his efforts.

They are now facing corruption and money-laundering charges after police attached to the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation and the Anti-Corruption Unit nabbed them.

Mia, the father of two prominent Joburg medical doctors, and Simamane have already made two court appearances in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on the multimillion-rand fraud charges. Mia’s 10 companies are listed as the “accused” in court papers.

The Hawks and the Gauteng Directorate of Public Prosecutions have listed Mia and Simamane’s case as one of key court matters that need to be speedily prosecuted. A State prosecutor in the National Director of Public Prosecutions office in Joburg has already been appointed to prosecute the two.

The State alleges that Mia and Simamane’s corrupt relationship began in 2006 and had been going on for five years when the department started instituting an internal probe.

Copy of Copy of ST syndicate Linksfield House
The Linksfield abode of alleged syndicate mastermind Sayed Hoosen Mia and below is the home of Public Works Department official Desmond Simamane in Melville, Joburg. Pictures: Google Maps and Adrian de Kock
The department asked the Hawks to conduct the investigation after it became suspicious that acts of corruption were taking place among officials in its Braamfontein office.

The State said in court documents that Simamane was employed in the Public Works Department as a senior administrator.

One of the functions of the department was the acquisition and administering of lease office accommodation for the various national departments, known as client departments.

Simamane, who was stationed in Braamfontein, had as one of his duties the acquisition of office accommodation for national government departments through a tender process, including the management of the resulting lease contracts.

Mia, on the other hand, provided lease accommodation to client departments through a tender process of the Department of Public Works. This was done through his companies.

The State alleges that in 2006, Simamane accepted a gift from Mia – a Nissan Hardbody bakkie, with registration number RFM612GP, valued at R156 400.

Copy of Copy of ST syndicate Melville House

He also obtained regular use of a BMW 525 sedan – registration number XKR 844 GP – valued at R566 250.

The State says Mia, either personally or through his companies, also made several internet transfers into Simamane’s personal account or that of his soccer club, Island Football Club. The R640 500 internet payments made into the Island Football Club’s account were made between August 18, 2007 and April 1, 2011.

The State says Mia offered the cars and money to ensure that Simamane recommended his companies for the lease contracts.

Simamane, the State alleges, also failed to declare to the department that Mia was providing accommodation to the client departments, but ensured the funds from the client departments were fraudulently made available to Mia and his companies.

Mia faced similar charges. He was also charged with bribing Simamane with cash and expensive vehicles for his personal use on July 23.

Simamane is out on R5 000 bail and Mia has been released on R10 000 bail.

The State did not oppose bail.

Mia, in his bail application, asked the court to release him on bail on medical grounds.

“I had two heart attacks in the last few years and had to have five stents inserted in the arteries of my heart. I also have a problem with my blood pressure and am afflicted from time to time with gout, for which I am required to take various medications.”

Mia also told the court that he has been in business in Lenasia and Joburg for more than 40 years and

had always been involved with the community.

“My family and I are well established in Johannesburg and my two sons are medical doctors. I have five grandchildren. I consider Johannesburg to be my home and I have no reason or intention to go anywhere else now or in the future.

“I have been in business for many years and I would estimate my house and other assets to be valued in the sum of R20m. My liabilities, on the other hand, amount to approximately R12m,” he said.

Mia and Simamane will be back in court on January 15, when a trial date is expected to be set.

The Star

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