The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) announced the first jail sentence for a VBS-accused on Wednesday afternoon…

According to the NPA, “The former Chief Financial Officer of the VBS Bank, Phillip Truter, was sentenced by the Palm Ridge Specialised Commercial Crimes Court to 10 years imprisonment, with three years suspended on Tuesday morning.”

This means that he will serve an effective seven years behind bars. Truter was one of eight initial suspects in the first leg of the Hawks’ VBS investigation.

In July, it was reported that Truter “sobbed throughout his court appearance”, and indicated that he would plead guilty to all charges against him which included fraud, corruption, and money laundering.

Truter also failed to submit a tax return in 2018.

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Other suspects who were arrested in the first leg of the investigation include:

  • Former VBS chairman, Tshifhiwa Matodzi
  • Former VBS CEO, Andile Ramavhunga
  • Former treasurer, Phophi Mukhodobwane
  • Former non-executive board members, Ernest Nesane and Paul Magula
  • Former CFO of the South African police, Phalaphala Avhashoni Ramikosi
  • Former senior KPMG employee, Sipho Malaba
Former VBS Mutual Bank chair Tshifhiwa Matodzi
Former VBS Mutual Bank chair Tshifhiwa Matodzi and his accomplices appear at Palm Ridge Regional Court in Johannesburg, 18 June 2020, after charges of theft of billions of rands from the bank. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

Truter pleaded guilty to all charges

Truter pleaded guilty to charges of fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering. He has undertaken to cooperate with the state’s case, which was investigated by the Hawks and guided by the NPA.

Truter says that he was complicit and active during the VBS debacle and has decided to come clean.  His honesty was ‘welcomed’ by the NPA which noted that “corruption can effectively be beaten from the inside.”

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NPA encourages whistle-blowers to come forward

In a statement, the NPA encouraged whistle-blowers to come clean.

“The law enforcement agencies always encourage either whistle-blowers or accused persons who want to come clean to make a full, frank, honest and open disclosure about their involvement and their ill-gotten gains.”

“There are times where, especially in the realm of corruption, when law enforcement will need the cooperation of insiders.  Many of these schemes are fairly closed and only a very close inside group will have the know-how of the shenanigans that transpired – someone like Truter who decides to take responsibility for his actions will always be encouraged to talk to the state and such honesty is welcomed.”

The Hawks investigation of the VBS scandal continues, and according to the NPA, is “progressing well.”

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