The Zondo commission has heard how former Bosasa CEO Angelo Agrizzi threatened an auditor into cooperating with his plan to expose Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson for corrupt business activity.
Peet Venter, a former Bosasa auditor, took the stand on Tuesday and provided details related to suspected corrupt activity at Bosasa.
Venter took the commission through the timeline of how his 2017 affidavit was drafted. He said he was invited to Agrizzi’s home and asked to compile a statement regarding Watson’s corrupt business activities at Bosasa. Agrizzi told Venter that he and former Bosasa CFO Andries van Tonder planned to expose Watson and he had to choose whether he wanted to go down with Watson or join their crusade.
He said Agrizzi threatened to expose an undeclared wall that was constructed by a Bosasa on his behalf. He also threatened him through media exposure.
Venter said he was reluctant in drafting a statement because he feared he would lose his job and the company he worked for would lose a business contract with Bosasa
Agrizzi promised he would pay him R300 000 a month since he had worries about his employment.
Venter said the information in his statement was correct except for a few paragraphs where Agrizzi had inserted his own information. Venter said he did not immediately sign the statement but later did when Agrizzi threatened him.
Venter also told the inquiry about Bosasa’s prawn farming business, SeaArk, which failed but continued to operate with a different business focus. He said the company had assessment losses of around R138 million. He said Watson wanted him and van Tonder to make use of the losses faced by SeaArk to reduce the tax amounts payable through profits made in the company’s other entities.
Bosasa was able to evade R38 million in taxes and all the documentation submitted to SARS on the matter were fraudulent.
Venter also told the commission how in dealing with the SeaArk matter, he had recommended that Bosasa hire a company called Tax Risk Management Services (TMR). He said Bosasa was reluctant to hire the company and he was told to create a company and hire TMR directly.
Venter said he did not create a company and instead made use of a dormant company that he had already opened. The company was called Miotto and operated under the name of Venter’s relative.
TMR would invoice Miotto for services rendered and in turn, Miotto would invoice Bosasa on an inflated amount. He said Agrizzi and van Tonder would dictate to him how the invoices should be written.
The amounts were inflated because of a commission that would be paid to him, Agrizzi and van Tonder.
Miotto is the same company which was used to facilitate an R500 000 donation towards President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC presidential campaign in 2017. Venter had been instructed by Watson to make the payment and disguise its origins.
Venter also spoke about a company called Consilium which provided labour brokering services to Bosasa. He said he took over the company’s operations when the man in who managed it died. He said the company invoiced Bosasa for services rendered and the company would then pay its staff which worked for Bosasa.
He said Watson’s relatives also received salaries from Consilium. Three men who were responsible for paying bribes to correctional services officials were also paid by Consilium.
The inquiry continues.
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