Following his commitment to turn the tide against corruption in public institutions and fight fraud and collusion in the private sector, President Cyril Ramaphosa says government has been working hard to strengthen and support law enforcement and related agencies.
Through his weekly newsletter to the nation on Monday, the President said these efforts are producing results.
“We set up the Investigating Directorate in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to deal with serious corruption and the Special Tribunal to enable the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to more easily recover stolen funds.
“We have also provided support and resources to other critical crime-fighting bodies like the Asset Forfeiture Unit, Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit and Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, known as the Hawks,” he said.
Through collaboration with key entities in the criminal justice system, he said the Investigating Directorate has enrolled over 20 corruption cases in the last financial year and 65 accused have been charged. These include several ‘State capture’ and other serious corruption cases.
In the past financial year, the Asset Forfeiture Unit obtained freezing orders to the value of R5.4 billion relating to corruption offences, with R70 million paid into the Criminal Assets Recovery Fund.
The President added that over the past eight years, the SIU has recovered funds and assets to the value of R2.6 billion and set aside contracts to the value of R18 billion.
A total of 119 cases worth more than R13 billion have been enrolled by the SIU at the Special Tribunal.
“Corruption is an extremely complex crime to prosecute. Perpetrators go to extraordinary lengths to cover their tracks. They set up shelf companies to hide dodgy transactions, rapidly moving monies between multiple accounts, misrepresenting income to the tax authorities, and in the case of government employees, using friends and relatives to apply for tenders to mask their involvement.
“This means that the response of the authorities has to be just as sophisticated,” the President said.
In 2020, government established a multidisciplinary Fusion Centre as an operational hub to address priority financial crimes, including corruption.
The centre brings together the investigative capabilities of government’s crime prevention and security structures and those of the Financial Intelligence Centre, which develops intelligence for law enforcement agencies to use in their investigations.
“Two years since the Fusion Centre was established, its multidisciplinary approach to ‘follow the money’ has yielded significant results. In the last financial year, the work of the Fusion Centre supported 276 fraud and corruption investigations.
“Approximately R659 million was restored to the State through preservation and recovery of the proceeds of crime. Approximately R613 million in suspected criminal proceeds were frozen,” the President said.
The Fusion Centre was initially set up to investigate corruption around COVID-related procurement.
The President said its mandate is now being expanded to include money-laundering, fraud, maladministration, terrorist financing and other serious financial crimes.
Another vital financial intelligence tool is the lifestyle audits conducted by the South African Revenue Service, says the President.
He highlighted that last year, SARS completed 25 lifestyle audits to the value of over R450 million to resolve discrepancies between declared income and an individual’s lifestyle.
“It is clear that the measures we have taken as this administration to restore the capacity, capability and credibility of the institutions involved in the fight against corruption are having a demonstrable impact.
“The synchronised work of all the law enforcement agencies is hitting criminals where it hurts most: in their pockets. Public funds that were looted and diverted are being recovered and those responsible for these acts are being prosecuted by our courts,” the President said.
National Anti-Corruption Advisory Council members appointed
To further strengthen government t’s efforts to turn the tide against corruption, the President has today announced appointments to the National Anti-Corruption Advisory Council.
The Council will bring together stakeholders from across society to oversee the implementation of government’s anti-corruption strategy.
The new body will advise government on the critical preventative measures, institutional capabilities and resources needed to prevent a recurrence of State capture and to stamp out fraud and corruption in South Africa.
“Our ultimate aim is to build strong and resilient institutions that can end corruption and withstand any future attempts at state capture.
“As we continue to build on these successes, we are confident that even if it takes time, those who stole and looted resources meant for the people will face the consequences of their actions,” he said.