๐Ÿ”’ Jared Watson: How Agrizzi and Van Tonder stole from Bosasa

The wrapping continues to come off the Bosasa story, a dramatic tale of bribery corruption and intrigue which has kept the chattering classes entertained throughout 2019. The late Gavin Watson was tried and convicted in the court of public opinion on the say-so of his former COO Angelo Agrizzi, star witness at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture. But as we keep discovering, there is far more to this story than the simplistic story that’s been sold. Jared Watson, a CA, has been working tirelessly to uncover evidence, which he reckons comprehensively supports a view that the whole Bosasa nightmare is industrial espionage, with Agrizzi launching pre-emptive strikes to grab the public consciousness. Latest of which is his launch of a defamation suit against Watson shortly before the accountant presented prima facie evidence to the SA Police Services that Agrizzi and his fellow executive Andries van Tonder, channelled tens of millions of Bosasa’s rands into shell companies they owned. Curiouser and curiouser. – Alec Hogg

A warm welcome to Jared Watson as we pick up on the Bosasa story. Jared, good to have you here. A lot has happened, but most recently, last week you decided to lay a criminal charge against Angelo Agrizzi – the guy on the opposing side of the fence to your uncle, the late Gavin – what exactly is going on?
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I was asked to do a forensic audit of sorts on the accounts of Bosasa, which has taken the better part of a year – us looking into the accounts and seeing where there’s been misappropriation of funds etc. And we’re now in a position where we have adequate supporting documentation to bring charges against any misappropriation that we’ve identified or any fraud that’s occurred within the company – for which I have a professional responsibility.

So what exactly did you find that Agrizzi had done?

The charges that were opened last week at the Krugersdorp Police station – related to entities where payments were made – in which Agrizzi, Van Tonder or a connected party was a director and or member of that company. So that was the first group of charges that we brought. These were predominantly a C/C that had been formed in the names of Angel Agrizzi and Andries Van Tonder, those C/C’s sent invoices to Bosasa. As the CEO and CFO of the company Agrizzi and Van Tonder would authorise those invoices for payment and then payment would be made against them. By doing that, they were able able to filter funds out of the company and into their personal hands in their C/C. After a period of time they would liquidate those C/C’s and try to destroy the trace of the evidence. We’ve brought the initial charges in the names of four of those C/C’s that were exclusively in their name and invoices that were authorised by them.

When you say exclusively were there other invoices as well?

Yeah. There’s a number of other stuff that we’ve uncovered that we’ll have to bring charges for at a later stage. But these ones were the first grouping of items that are related specifically to companies where no service was provided and the payment was made to a C/C and or company, in which they were directly – or connected in some way – a member or shareholder of that company and or the C/C.

So were you able to work out what happened to the money once it went into that C/C?

Yes, some bank statements were – I think by mistake – left behind by them when they left the company. Effectively the company would pay to their C/C and we were even able to trace payments from their C/C into their personal bank accounts. But we don’t have every single item like that because they didn’t leave every statement behind. But we’ve been able to trace a number of items already just by doing that. But as I said, every item has actually been traced to the C/C which is in their name or to the company which is in their name. So yes, every item has been traced. We know the company that was paid and it is a company that was in their name.

So the relevance here is that you are showing that Agrizzi and Van Tonder acted in concert on the one hand.

Correct.

And the second thing was they stole from the business yet they’ve said as much to the Zondo Commission, so why bother? Surely this guy’s going to jail anyway?

I can’t say what will happen in the criminal justice system but we have a responsibility – remember everyone keeps saying it’s the family versus Agrizzi. I’m not acting on behalf of the Watson family in any way – I’m now the executor of Gavin’s estate so I act primarily from that aspect as the executor. I step into his shoes as a shareholder and also as a director of the holding company now. So it’s from that capacity – of the directors and shareholders – that I have a responsibility to bring charges now that we’re aware of what’s happened. We’ve done our investigation and we are fully aware of of what occurred.

So what did happen Jared? There’s still a lot of confusion. Most people in the country – including some who’ve written books on it – believe that your uncle was the kingpin, he was the guy who stole all this money. He was the puppet master. You’re now saying Agrizzi was also filtering money from the company as well – and you say you have evidence for that – but from the way you’ve got your teeth into it, what went on?

For me this is just a simple case of corporate espionage or whatever you want to call it, where these guys were stealing from the company for years. And I believe all they wanted to do was get ahead of the game. We know now, as you mentioned from the Bosasa files (as you called them when you released them on your website), that what was happening here is you had a group of people within the company that wanted to take it over and that cannot be disputed. The emails and the lawyers letters are there. Once the cow was taken from them, because they were retrenched from the business, they could no longer steal from the business, so then they wanted to take over the business itself. Just look at the timing of events. The directors of the company open up criminal charges against Agrizzi end of August 2018. He only approached the Zondo Commission in September 2018. Frank Dutton says – in the transcript of his evidence – that he was approached by Angelo in September 2018 subsequent to criminal charges already being opened up against him by the directors of the company for crime enduring defamation of character. So I think he just realised that for lack of a better term the gig was up and he tried to get ahead of the game.

The getting ahead of the game was by blaming everything onto Gavin. That’s what you’ve been having to try and prove. But we still keep getting great people coming to us saying Gavin Watson was a crook. He was the mastermind of all of this. He was bribing officials to get prison contracts and so on.

Sure. What I say to anyone is any accusation that’s made must be tested. At the moment, Bosasa have never been found guilty of anything in the courts. Their service delivery has never never been questioned and neither have any of the tender submissions – for pricing – these things need to be tested in court. No doubt.

As far as your uncle’s death is concerned is there any more evidence that has come to the fore?

No. We’re basically in the same position that has been reported on – the police are keeping their cards close to their chest – they’ve said to us they cannot disclose anything until their investigation is concluded. And until then we just have to sit tight.

Have they given you any idea of how long it’ll take?

No. I said can we get a time frame and they said they don’t want to be held to one.

But do they suspect that this was foul play?

They couldn’t say specifically. They said they cannot call anyone a suspect at this stage because from a legal perspective, what happens is they submit their findings to a court and then a court determines the course of action for the police and only at that time can they define someone as a suspect. That doesn’t mean that they’re not investigating people on items that are questionable to them. They cannot define anyone specifically as a suspect just because that isn’t the process that they follow.

Is that a similar thing now with these criminal charges that you’ve laid against Agrizzi and Van Tonder?

That’s still very fresh. I don’t know what the process is. I’ve been told that it will be handed over to the Hawks and it’ll be investigated. But for us it’s just a first step to say look these are the thefts we are aware of from the business and we have opened the case against that. The charges are theft, fraud and money laundering as well as conspiracy to commit fraud. That is the perspective from which the charges were opened.

So the police are now presumably going to have a look at that and decide whether or not to investigate.

Correct. As I said, it’s quite self-explanatory that this was a closed loop of authorisations and approvals of Agrizzi and Van Tonder – effectively preparing invoices from their own companies, signing those invoices by themselves – and affecting payment against that invoice. I cannot see how the items can even be questioned. I don’t know if you’re aware, but Angelo has – last week – opened up charges of defamation of character against me. He must have known we were preparing criminal charges against him so he tried to pre-empt it by bringing charges of defamation of character against me. For nonsense basically, from the Bosasa files – effectively saying that we’ve made these accusations that he perjured himself and he lied under oath – and saying I suggested that he killed Gavin. We’ve proven he did perjure himself in the Bosasa files. Regarding him being a suspect in the murder, I haven’t said that he is a suspect. I was asked who would be a suspect if there was anyone and I said the reality is the only person we can suspect is him because he was the only person we’re aware of to date, that has threatened Gavin’s life. I mentioned that in April of last year, Mike Schultz said in a News24 article, that Angelo offered to pay R2m to seriously assault Gavin. And the funny thing is I’m just quoting that article but he doesn’t bring a charge of defamation of character against Mike Schultz who actually made the accusation. He brings me up for repeating the article in which it was written.

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