South Africa seizes another $5.7million from Nigeria

The Asset Forfeiture Unit of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in South Africa has seized $5.7 million for yet another arms deal between South Africa and Nigeria, reported City Press, a Johannesburg-based newspaper.

This is the second multimillion-dollar arms deal between the two countries in the past month that has resulted in the money being frozen in South African banks.

However, the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), in a statement yesterday trying to justify the large movement of cash across borders for the purchase of arms, said the transactions were legitimate.

The money was seized in both cases for allegedly being the proceeds of illegal transactions.

City Press’ sister paper Rapport has learnt that the department for offences against the state in the Special Investigating Unit is also involved.

Documents in the newspaper’s possession showed that the earlier consignment was approved by the Nigerian government – that the country’s National Security Adviser, Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd), personally issued the end-user certificate for the transaction.

An entire “shopping list” was supplied with the certificate, which included everything from helicopters to unmanned aircraft, rockets and ammunition.

Sources close to the investigation said the latest transaction was between Cerberus Risk Solutions, an arms broker in Cape Town, and Societe D’Equipments Internationaux, a Nigerian company in Abuja.

An impeccable source said this company paid the R60 million (N1.2 billion) into Cerberus’ account at Standard Bank.

Cerberus was previously registered as a broker with the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC), but the registration expired in May this year. The marketing and contracting permits also expired at the same time.

The company has since applied for re-registration, but the application was in the NCACC’s mailbox for more than two months.

Sources told Rapport that Cerberus apparently tried to pay the money back to the Nigerian company, after which the bank became suspicious.

The NPA’s Asset Forfeiture Unit subsequently obtained a court order in the South Gauteng High Court to seize the money.

Cerberus’ attorney, Martin Hood, this week declined to comment on the matter.
NPA spokesperson Nathi Mncube said there were no indications that the two transactions were related.

“However, both are now the subject of a criminal investigation and all possible information and connections are being investigated,” said Mncube.

Last month, $9.3 million in $100 bills stashed in suitcases conveyed by two Nigerians and an Israeli, Eyal Mesika, in a private aircraft belonging to the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, was seized at Lanseria Airport, north of Johannesburg.

Oritsejafor said the plane had been leased to a third party and that he could not be blamed for its schedules.

The federal government later admitted it was behind the arms deal, claiming it was trying to procure arms in a secret deal to defeat the terrorist sect, Boko Haram.

A probe planned by the Senate into the transaction is ongoing while the House of Representatives threw out a motion seeking a probe.

At the time, the South Africa Revenue Service (SARS) said customs officers became suspicious when the passengers’ luggage were unloaded and put through the scanners.

Under South African laws, a person entering or leaving the country is expected to carry cash not exceeding $2,300, or the equivalent in foreign currency notes.

Credit: ThisDay