The government has resolved not to bail out poor and rural municipalities that illegally invested more than R1.57-billion with the now cash-strapped VBS Mutual Bank.
This was disclosed by cooperative governance minister Zweli Mkhize during a meeting with the national assembly’s oversight committee on his department on Tuesday.
Mkhize said the government would instead recoup the money looted by the bank by its current and former executives once ongoing forensic audits and the bank’s liquidation process were concluded.
He said the municipalities would also be assisted with strengthening and tightening their internal financial controls.
Mkhize also said his department had instructed a senior legal counsel to launch lawsuits against those who had invested about R1.57-billion of taxpayers’ money in VBS and recover the money from individuals who had benefited from the looting.
He said the forensic audit‚ instituted in terms of the Municipal Systems Act‚ would seek to track where the decision to invest the money was taken‚ by whom and for what reasons.
Several municipalities in Gauteng‚ Limpopo and North West invested money with VBS in contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act.
The bank has since been placed under curatorship by the SA Reserve Bank after it become bankrupt and it emerged this month that it was looted by its executive and political figures to the tune of R1.9-billion.
“We are at a point where we want to get the reports from the forensic auditing [firms]; those reports will help us to be able to pinpoint individuals on whom we can lay a degree of culpability for purposes of both disciplinary proceedings as well as criminal charges beyond what the municipalities have already done‚” he told the meeting.