SARS spooks are (discreetly) at large again, with new clients and new masters.
Johann van Loggerenberg, former leader of SARS’s infamous High Risk Investigation Unit (HRIU) and Ivan Pillay, former SARS deputy commissioner and the Revenue Service’s enforcement supremo, have been linked to a shadowy company called Ukhozi Forensics and Consulting Services. And Ukhozi, it is claimed, has been working for a private security firm best known by its acronym BCPS (Basileus Consilium Professional Services), headed by the notorious Warren Goldblatt.
|Ivan Pillay, 'Skollie' Janse van Rensburg and Johann van Loggerenberg|
In addition, Anton van ’t Wout, cyber crime expert and former member of Van Loggerenberg’s HRIU, has emerged as a director of a specialist consultancy in cyberforensics and data analytics, named Forensics Consulting. The company also undertakes projects for Goldblatt’s BCPS, as well as for SARS, law firms Werksmans and Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs, banks Absa, Nedbank and Standard, and, inevitably, KPMG. Van ’t Wout, 48, joined SARS and “Skollie” Janse van Rensburg’s embryonic and highly secret National Research Group (NRG) in March 2007. His designation was Specialist (National Enforcement) and he was on grade 7 with annual remuneration of R530,000.
The NRG’s alleged bugging of the offices of the National Prosecuting Authority in an operation called Project Sunday Evenings took place later in 2007. After the existence of the covert NRG was exposed by former member Michael Peega in October 2009, the unit was dismantled and Van ’t Wout was one of six survivors hand-picked by Van Loggerenberg to form the succeeding and equally clandestine High Risk Investigation Unit.
The HRIU was in turn closed down in 2014 following exposure of its existence by Van Loggerenberg’s former lover Belinda Walter. Van ’t Wout stayed on at SARS until he finally resigned in May 2017. He was appointed as a director of Facts Consulting seven months later.
Before joining SARS, Van ’t Wout was a senior researcher at the state’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in the Defence, Peace, Safety and Security division. His speciality is cyber crime and in a 2006 article in Brainstorm magazine he wrote: “To become a cyber criminal, all you need is the inclination to do crime and internet access. It is that simple.” He attributed the “desirability” of online crime to its automation, the ability to perform actions at a distance, the far-reaching technique propagation, difficulties in detection, and “simply that more money can be accrued than would be possible in the physical world”.
Ivan Pillay, 64, Johann van Loggerenberg, 50, and “Skollie” Janse van Rensburg are facing charges over the alleged NPA bugging and Project Sunday Evenings. Their next appearance in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court is scheduled for June 12, when the case is due to be transferred to the high court for trial.
[Regardless of whether they are found guilty or acquitted of the charges, the trial is of great public interest and importance, hopefully providing a fair opportunity for both prosecution and defence to present their evidence, not only to the court but also to citizens increasingly concerned about the state of the country’s intelligence and taxcollection services – and the extent of their alleged illegal activities.
The trial takes place against a background of widespread illegal phone bugging and unauthorised interception of computer communications, seemingly tolerated – and often commissioned – by the authorities themselves. In big business the use of dubious private investigators to perform these illegal practices is routine, with little risk of repercussions. The big question is: will advocate Shamila Batohi, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s new national director of the National Prosecuting Authority, take a less tolerant line in her muchvaunted crackdown on crime? – Ed].
The existence of shadowy Ukhozi Forensics first emerged on 30 January 2018 in a statement to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises by Lucky Montana, former chief executive of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa ).
Montana said that, as part of an investigation into corruption at Prasa, the agency’s then chairman Popo Molefe appointed Werksmans to conduct a forensic audit into Prasa contracts.
“Werksmans Attorneys ran surveillance on certain individuals and/or companies in violation of various laws of the Republic,” read Montana’s statement. “The surveillance was mainly conducted through the following companies: Basileus Consilium Professional Services (that’s BCPS) and Crowe Horwath Forensics. They later enlisted the services of ‘Ukhozi’ and other individuals like the former SARS executive Ivan Pillay, Paul O’Sullivan and Deon Pienaar.
“Said companies and individuals subjected me to a vicious campaign of illegal surveillance. I was followed wherever I went. My house in Waterkloof, Pretoria was broken into three times where computers, memory sticks and documents were taken. Some of the documents taken illegally at my house found their way into reports compiled by Werksmans Attorneys.
“I had to take urgent measures to protect my family. I had to procure private investigators to establish the origin of this surveillance and the people involved.”
And writing in Africa News on 7 September 2018 about press coverage of his testimony, Montana complained that the media “deliberately left out the critical issue of illegal intelligence operations by companies and individuals outside of the State. I mentioned the names of companies like BCPS, Horwath Forensics and the behindthe- scenes work of one company called Ukhozi Forensics, involving Ivan Pillay and some former members of the SARS Rogue Unit. These were the companies doing the dirty work for Werksmans Attorneys.”
In support of this extraordinary statement, Floyd Shivambu, deputy president of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has claimed that SARS’s rogue unit still exists. In a blog titled “Dismantling the Pravin Gordhan Cabal”, Shivambu said last October: “BCPS is owned and controlled by Warren Goldblatt, who regularly meets with Pravin Gordhan and always engages in forensic business dealings with Ivan Pillay and Johann van Loggerenberg. Ivan Pillay and Van Loggerenberg own a company called Ukhozi Forensics, which works with BCPS on a sub-contracted basis, and has illegal intelligence capacity and methods.
“Almost everywhere Werksmans Attorneys is appointed they bring along BCPS and a company called Facts Consulting Pty Ltd. In some instances they bring a black advocate, mostly senior counsel, to be the figurehead of forensic investigations reports they compiled through illegally acquired information… Werksmans Attorneys, BCPS and Facts are the same companies that compiled and wrote the VBS Mutual Bank report, issued under the name of Advocate Terry Motau SC [published by the Reserve Bank last October].”
So, what to make of the claims of Lucky Montana and Floyd Shivambu?
Little is known about Ukhozi Forensics and Facts Consulting, although volumes have been written on the antics of Warren Goldblatt and his controversial private security company which over the years has morphed from being Associated Intelligence Network (AIN) to Specialised Services Group (SSG) to its present Basileus Consilium Professional Services (BCPS).
Registration records show that Ukhozi Forensics and Consulting Services started business on 10 July 2015. This was just two months after Ivan Pillay’s “amicable” May 7 resignation that year from SARS with a near-R10 million goodbye pay-off. Van Loggerenberg had resigned earlier, that February.
Ukhozi – it’s Zulu for eagle – lists only two directors, Muhammad Seedat and Luvo Makasi, both appointed in September 2015. Muhammad Ameen Seedat, 42, is listed as a team member and “Certified Fraud Examiner” on BCPS’s website. In company records he’s listed as a former director of Warren Goldblatt’s old SSG. Luvo Lincoln Makasi is a feisty 35-yearold who in his spare time is chairman of the Central Energy Fund, South Africa’s national energy utility which in 2017/18 defied a budgeted loss of R670m to achieve a net profit R354m.
Makasi hit the headlines shortly after his 2017 energy fund appointment with allegations in City Press of a romantic relationship with Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane that had given him authority to run her water affairs department, or be influential in its tender awards. The newspaper reported claims that Makasi had visited Polokwane Mayor Thembi Nkadimeng and given instructions on who should get a stake in a R2.2 billion water project. Makasi’s complaint to the Press Council about the story was rejected.
Apart from Ukhozi, Luvo Makasi has 13 other listed directorships. Which raises the question: as an attorney (he’s with law firm Boqwana Burns), could Makasi be holding Ukhozi’s shares and acting as a nominee director for a person or persons unknown?
Makasi may be a whiz heading the nation’s vital energy utility, but its chairman appears to have scant knowledge about the mysterious Ukhozi. In fact, he tells Noseweek that he resigned as its director this January – or perhaps last December.
“Educated bullshit!” is his response when asked about Floyd Shivambu’s claim that Ukhozi is owned by Ivan Pillay and Johann van Loggerenberg.
Do Pillay and Van Loggerenberg have any association with the company? “What happened, remember they left SARS and they used to do ad hoc consulting,” says Makasi. “My understanding was that they consulted as part of the [Ukhozi] team that was doing data analysis and some stuff. But I don’t remember them being shareholders. I can double-check for you.”
So they did work for Ukhozi? “They were consultants, yes.”
On what sort of projects? A cloud of uncertainty suddenly envelopes the chairman of state’s Central Energy Fund. “If it was not Ukhozi it would have been BCPS,” he hedged. “If you can just drop me a WhatsApp or email with all the questions that you want me to answer I’ll check them for you and come back to you.”
Within minutes our questions were winging their way to him. Were you representing others as a director/ shareholder? Were either/both Pillay or Van Loggerenberg shareholders of Ukhozi? Why did you resign your Ukhozi directorship? What services does Ukhozi offer? How come the chairman of the Central Energy Fund was involved in a company like Ukhozi? Who runs Ukhozi on a dayto- day basis? Where does the company operate from?
Alas, silence reined.
As Noseweeek went to press, it was announced that Makasi has been fired as chair of the Central Energy Fund. Facts Consulting, founded in 2004, offers skills that include cybercrime investigations, IT security, software development and intelligence gathering. From their offices in Pretoria’s Lynnwood, director Jacques Malan confirms that Facts has done substantial work for Werksmans on a subcontracted basis [just as the EFF’s Floyd Shivambu claimed].
|BCPS's director Paul Simpson with Martin 'The Punisher' van Staden at BCPS-sponsored joust|
Is he familiar with Ukhozi Forensics? “Yes, I’ve heard of them,” replies Malan.
Are Ivan Pillay and Johann van Loggerenberg employed or used by Ukhozi? “Look, I obviously won’t be able to comment on that,” says Malan. “I’m not aware of what they do. I have heard the name [Ukhozi] mentioned, but I have no idea who they employ or what they do. You need to speak to BCPS about that. We’re not part of them [BCPS]. We assist Werksmans investigations, so I imagine that’s where I’ve heard the name, but that’s basically that.”
A call to BCPS offices in Joburg’s Rivonia Road and we are talking to a hostile-sounding gent by the name of Paul Simpson. Simpson has worked with Warren Goldblatt since the AIN days of 1999 and today is sole director of grandly-named Basileus Consilium Professional Services. Goldblatt is travelling, says Simpson, and difficult to get hold of. “But what can we do for you?”
Simpson agrees that Ukhozi Forensics does work for BCPS, but when we ask if we can chat about that he snaps: “No, you can speak to Warren, if you can get hold of him.” At Werksmans, a senior member of the firm mutters: “Anything that Mr Lucky Montana says you can disregard.”
|Johann van Loggerenberg, 'Skollie' Janse van Rensburg, Bernard Hotz and Ivan Pillay|
We try to speak about the firm’s relationship with BCPS with the relevant partner, Bernard Hotz, who heads the Business Crimes and Investigations practice. The services of this unit don’t come cheap. The cost to the taxpayer of Werksmans’ much-criticised seemingly never-ending investigation into corruption at Prasa, led by Hotz, by last October had reached R169m, which makes the attorney something of a rainmaker, as the legal parlance goes for big fee generators.
Sadly Rainmaker Hotz declines to answer our written questions about BCPS, Ukhozi Forensics and Facts Consulting; whether Ivan Pillay or Johann van Loggerenberg provided input to his practice’s investigations; and whether any surveillance conducted by agents on Werksmans’ behalf involved the monitoring of telephone conversations or computer communications.
Hotz does act as attorney for all three defendants in the pending high court rogue unit trial – Pillay, Van Loggerenberg and Janse van Rensburg – so he had the opportunity to give comment on their behalf too. But the lawyer’s written response merely states that our questions “appear to be attempts to advance a narrative that the Business Crimes and Investigations practice of Werksmans is somehow engaged in unlawful or unethical activities. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
The Rainmaker adds: “Werksmans declines to engage in debate about the conduct of investigations that the Business Crimes and Investigations practice has been involved in.”
But Lucky Montana and Floyd Shivambu aren’t the only ones perturbed by the activities of Werksmans and Warren Goldblatt. Back in 2014 advocate Nazeer Cassim SC represented tobacco company Carnilinx and its boss, self-confessed cigarette smuggler and fraudster Adriano Mazzotti, then under investigation by Van Loggerenberg’s HRIU. Cassim’s negotiating skills were employed in settlement talks with Van Loggerenberg and SARS over Carnilinx’s tax liability, estimated at between R600m and R800m.
Mazzotti and Carnilinx were historic clients of Warren Goldblatt’s Specialised Services Group – it was that year, 2014, that Goldblatt exited SSG with its forensics team to form BCPS. So Nazeer Cassim, famously eccentric but with a strong sense of right and wrong, would have had a good idea of how Mazzotti operated. Cassim had a good relationship with SARS’s Van Loggerenberg and he also acted for Ivan Pillay in his successful 2014 application to the Labour Court to have his suspension from SARS overturned.
In February 2015, just weeks after the Labour Court matter and now sitting as acting judge in the South Gauteng High Court in an application involving the Resilient property group (see noses 137; 138; 145; 177; 191; 221 & 222), Cassim came out with a blistering attack on Werksmans and SSG after the law firm “brazenly” confirmed in an affidavit that they had used Goldblatt’s SSG for corrupt purposes. (See Editorial, nose191.)
“It is a regrettable but true feature of criminal practice that criminal lawyers… utilise private investigators who in turn have a network of policemen to do their bidding,” thundered Cassim’s judgment. “So rampant is the practice that Werksmans, a major Johannesburg law firm, do not query or find it distasteful to [by their own admission] hire private investigators SSG, who they know have an untoward relationship with senior policemen, who are at their beck and call.
“It is no secret… that… to obtain a successful prosecution it is useful, if not necessary, to obtain the services of private criminal investigators to literally prepare the docket on behalf of the police.”
Ever heard the expression “things that go bump in the night”?
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