‘Haunted’ VBS executive Truter sentenced to seven years

The former chief financial officer of VBS, who received R5-million of the R2.5-billion allegedly looted from the mutual bank, will spend seven years in prison.  

On Wednesday, Phillip Truter pleaded guilty to fraud, corruption, racketeering, theft and money laundering in the specialised commercial crimes court sitting in Palmridge. He also agreed to assist the state with how the funds from the defunct bank were plundered. 

Truter was sentenced to 10 years, three of which were suspended. He is the first senior executive to be sentenced in the VBS matter. 

The other seven accused, who have indicated they will plead not guilty, are expected to make their second appearance on Thursday. 

They are: former VBS chairperson Tshifhiwa Matodzi, former chief executive Andile Ramavhunga,  former treasurer Phophi Mukhodobwane, former KPMG auditor Sipho Malaba, former VBS non-executive director Lieutenant General Avhashoni Ramikosi as well as Ernest Nesane and Paul Magula, who represented the Public Investment Corporation as non-executive directors on the board. 

Sipho Ngwema, the spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), welcomed Truter’s sentence and said the convicted fraudster would work closely with the state. “The law enforcement agencies always encourage either whistle-blowers 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,” Ngwema said.  

“There are times, especially in the realm of corruption, when law enforcement will need the cooperation of insiders. Any 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. Corruption can effectively  be beaten from the inside. 

“Other legs of the VBS investigation by the Hawks and the NPA are progressing well,” he added.

 In July, in an affidavit read out in court by the fraudster’s lawyer, WJ Hattingh, Cornelia Truter detailed how her husband had been mentally tormented after the release of The Great Bank Heist, advocate Terry Motau’s forensic report, which blew the lid on the alleged corruption at VBS in October 2018. The report was commissioned by the South African Reserve Bank.

Cornelia Truter said her husband had premonitions and religious revelations, which required the intervention of their family pastor. He was checked into Vista Psychiatric Clinic in Centurion. The hallucinations haunting her husband and fear of a mental breakdown had driven his desire to come clean, the affidavit read.  

At a bail hearing in June the other seven accused pleaded poverty were released on R100 000 bail, having asked for amounts to be set from R10 000 to R50 000.

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