SIU to probe East London Industrial Development Zone ‘corruption’

18 May 2021 - 15:39 By TimesLIVE
The signing of Proclamation R.20 of 2021 by President Cyril Ramaphosa authorises the SIU to unleash all its legislative powers to subpoena bank statements, cellphone records, seize evidence and interrogate witnesses under oath. Stock photo.
The signing of Proclamation R.20 of 2021 by President Cyril Ramaphosa authorises the SIU to unleash all its legislative powers to subpoena bank statements, cellphone records, seize evidence and interrogate witnesses under oath. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/ LE MOAL OLIVIER

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) said on Tuesday it would investigate allegations of corruption and maladministration at the East London Industrial Development Zone (ELIDZ) in the Eastern Cape.

The investigation will focus on management of the infrastructure maintenance and renewals fund (IMRF) and the appropriation of the funds of the IMRF to the tune of R30m.

The SIU will look at transactions between January 1 2011 and May 14  2021 and any others connecting people or entities involved in the investigation.

It will also scrutinise the management or appropriation of funds from the department of trade & industry amounting to R21m, and the appropriation of funds earmarked for the IMRF for other purposes plus a settlement paid to a former CFO of the ELIDZ.

The SIU said ELIDZ charged the former CFO with misconduct in November 2013 and later allegedly paid a settlement without a disciplinary hearing.

According to a whistle-blower who brought allegations of corruption and maladministration to the SIU, the settlement was not disclosed in financial statements or the entity’s annual report.

The SIU will also look into the procurement by ELIDZ of the Alexander Golf Club and eight properties, including a farm and payments made “in a manner that was not fair, competitive, transparent, equitable or cost-effective, or contrary to applicable legislation guidelines issued by the National Treasury or relevant provincial treasury”.

The investigation will cover:

  • the contracting for three 40MVA transformers for the Kemba substation;
  • feasibility studies and tests conducted for a biofuel site in the Berlin area in Buffalo City metropolitan municipality; and
  • one 20MVA transformer for a biofuel site in Berlin.

“The SIU will investigate any improper or unlawful conduct by employees or officials of ELIDZ or any other person or entity relating to the allegations being investigated.”

The investigation follows the signing of Proclamation R.20 of 2021 by President Cyril Ramaphosa which authorises the SIU to investigate allegations of corruption and maladministration in the affairs of ELIDZ and recover any losses by ELIDZ or the state.

The proclamation authorises the corruption-busting unit to use all its legislative powers to subpoena bank statements, cellphone records, search for and seize evidence and interrogate witnesses under oath.

Evidence pointing to criminal conduct will be referred to the National Prosecuting Authority and the Hawks.

TimesLIVE


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