The one-time chief financial officer of VBS Mutual Bank, Philip Truter, has pleaded guilty to charges of racketeering, fraud, corruption and money laundering.
He has been sentenced to 10 years behind bars, three of which have been suspended for five years.
In June, Truter was arrested along with seven others who had been implicated in what Advocate Terry Motau, SC dubbed “The Great Bank Heist”.
In the wake of a liquidity crisis, the South African Reserve Bank in 2018 placed VBS under curatorship and instituted a forensic investigation to establish exactly what had gone wrong.
Motau’s resultant 148-page report, titled “VBS Mutual Bank — The Great Bank Heist”, revealed “a wide range of criminality in the conduct of the affairs of VBS” and recommended criminal charges be investigated.
Truter – who controlled VBS’ banking systems and financial records and helped prepare the bank’s annual statements – appeared in the dock of the Palm Ridge Regional Court on his own on Wednesday after he struck a deal with the state.
Truter was the eighth suspect implicated in the looting of VBS Mutual Bank, and was granted bail of R50 000 in July this year.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Sipho Ngwema said Truter had decided to come clean.
“The law enforcement agencies always encourage either whistleblowers 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,” said Ngwema.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Matthys Wienekus – the former acting chief financial officer for the Merafong Municipality who has been criminally charged in connection with a R50 million deposit he made with VBS – is due back in court in December also for a plea agreement to be finalised.