Vincent Smith opts not to challenge order freezing his assets
Former ANC MP Vincent Smith, his family and company Euro Blitz 48 (Pty) have decided not to oppose a restraint order that froze assets worth R46m pending the outcome of a corruption and fraud case against him.
Judge Gcina Malindi was informed on Monday that while Smith initially indicated he wanted to oppose the order, he and his company had decided to withdraw.
“Today's court ruling confirms the interim restraint order handed down in February 2021. The order granted to the national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) under section 26 of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (Poca) extends not only to Smith’s property and that of his family trust and his company Euro Blitz 48 but also to property of his daughter Brumilda Smith, and the property of any other person or entity that received an affected gift under section 12 of Poca,” said Investigating Directorate (ID) spokesperson Sindisiwe Seboka.
The directorate said the restraint order was necessary to preserve assets while investigations continued into activities from which Smith allegedly benefited. He allegedly failed to to disclose these assets either to Sars or the registrar of parliamentary members’ interests.
A court-appointed curator from PwC will continue exercising control of the assets, pending the outcome of criminal proceedings against Smith and Euro Blitz 48.
“The asset forfeiture application stems from the criminal case enrolled by the ID on 1 October 2020, where Smith, Euro Blitz 48 and their co-accused Angelo Agrizzi appeared in the Palm Ridge Specialised Crimes Court on fraud and corruption charges based on allegations of gratifications to the approximate value of R800,000 accepted by Smith and Euro Blitz from Agrizzi and/or Bosasa,” said Seboko.
At the time, Smith chaired the parliamentary portfolio committee that had oversight of the department of correctional services, while Bosasa was under scrutiny for winning contracts worth more than R1bn from the department amid allegations that the contracts were corruptly awarded.
Bosasa provided services to the government, most notably the prison services.
According to evidence presented before the commission of inquiry into state capture, Agrizzi blew the whistle on underhand dealings the company was engaged in, including paying large sums of money to high-profile politicians in return for favours and business dealings.
While Smith was alleged to have received about R800,000 from Agrizzi or Bosasa, ID head advocate Hermione Cronje had earlier this year stated in the restraint application why more than this sum should be restrained.
“The evidence reveals a pattern of corrupt activities that took place over a period of approximately a decade, during which Smith unlawfully enriched himself in exchange for the use of his political influence,” she said. “He used Euro Blitz 48 Pty Ltd as a money laundering vehicle to receive proceeds of those unlawful activities on his behalf and conceal the nature and ownership of the proceeds.”
Smith also faces charges of tax fraud and evasion for receipt of payments not declared to Sars.
The ID said the restraint application detailed the following benefits received by Smith and/or Euro Blitz 48:
- security upgrades worth R200,000 installed at Smith’s Roodepoort residence by a Bosasa company without charge;
- two cash payments totalling R671,743 paid into the Euro Blitz 48 account by Agrizzi and/or Bosasa and transferred to Smith;
- cash deposits totalling R1,150,600 put into the Euro Blitz 48 account between 2013 and 2018, while Smith was a prominent parliamentarian. The source of the cash deposits was concealed and Smith used them for his benefit;
- payments totalling R17,081,613 made to the Euroblitz 48 account (and used by Smith for his benefit) between 2007 and 2018 by property development companies in terms of consultancy agreements that appointed Euro Blitz 48 to expedite applications for land development rights and procure positive outcomes in those applications from the Gauteng provincial government; and
- a sum of R9,009,723 being Smith’s assessed tax liability.
All the assets, including Smith’s family trust, will be retained until the finalisation of the case against him.