Agrizzi: R671,000 paid to ANC MP by Bosasa was ‘not a loan’
Parliament has made no effort to probe alleged bribe, despite complaint to ethics committee by the DA
Parliament has done nothing to investigate alleged Bosasa payments to longstanding ANC MP Vincent Smith – nearly five months after he admitted to receiving a R671,000 “loan” from the company’s ex chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi.
Agrizzi vehemently denies that the money was given as a loan, and on Monday testified it was part of a corrupt scheme to capture key parliamentary officials.
When contact was made with a co-chair of parliament’s joint ethics committee, Humphrey Maxhegwana, to establish what progress had been made in investigating Smith, he said he knew nothing about any probe.
Maxhegwana said he was surprised that he was being asked about the complaint against Smith as “I am not involved with that”.
DA MP John Steenhuisen confirmed that he had laid a complaint about Smith’s admission that he had received money from Bosasa, and his alleged failure to declare receiving this money, in September last year.
“It is simply staggering that some five months after I lodged a complaint with the ethics committee in the Vincent Smith matter that the chairperson is not even aware of it,” he said. “It is little wonder we are facing a scourge of corruption and dirty dealings by politicians like Smith, when there is a complete absence of a consequence for those accused of wrongdoing … it is crucial that parliament stop dragging its feet on this issue.”
Former Bosasa chief operating officer Angelo Agrizzi on Monday testified that Smith had received multiple payments of R45,000, and later R100,000 in exchange for acting in Bosasa’s interests during parliament correctional services portfolio committee meetings.
Smith served as the chair of the portfolio committee on correctional services, and had been one of Bosasa’s most voracious critics. But – according to Agrizzi – he later received monthly bribes from the company’s chief executive Gavin Watson to downplay negative media attention on Bosasa’s government contracts.
That negative media attention had intensified after the contents of a damning 2009 Special Investigating Unit report on Correctional Services, which implicated Bosasa in tender rigging, was released in the media by 2010.
“A decision was made that the parliamentary committee would manage the negative impact of the media coverage on Bosasa so that it wouldn’t impact on future business. It was agreed that MPs Vincent Smith, Vincent Magagula and Winnie Ngwenya would receive monthly cash payments to ensure an end to negative media coverage of Bosasa’s dealings with correctional services,” Agrizzi said.
Agrizzi further denied Smith’s claims that the R671,000 he received between 2015 and 2016 was a “personal loan”. However he claimed that Smith had asked him for a loan after he had left Bosasa in 2016, a request that he had refused.
Smith declined to comment on the evidence against him.
“At this point I will get advice before I comment on any matter.”
Asked about the status of the complaint lodged against him with the ethics committee, he responded: “The matter is before the ethics committee and is not yet finalised as far as I am aware.”