Scorpions in swoop on Kebble companies

Date: 01 Mar 2007
'We are talking about fraud three times the size of Enron' Scorpions investigators have swooped on 26 premises linked to slain mining magnate Brett Kebble's former companies, renewing the belief that his murder was a tiny part of a multibillion- rand web of organised crime. During the bail application of Kebble's alleged killer, Glenn Agliotti, Scorpions prosecutor Gerrie Nel stressed that Kebble's killing was part of a massive organised-crime investigation, which was at a sensitive stage. Now, while the Scorpions have kept tight-lipped about the exact nature of yesterday's raids on homes and offices in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Plettenberg Bay and Durban, The Star has confirmed they relate to an investigation into fraud, racketeering and money-laundering on an unprecedented scale. "We are talking about fraud that is three times the size of Enron," a source said last night. "There are hundreds of billions of rands involved." The Scorpions yesterday also raided the home of an alleged state witness in Kebble's murder case, his former head of security Clinton Nassif. It is understood that Nassif is one of the people alleged to have benefited financially from organised-crime activities currently under investigation. Attorney Marius du Toit, whose firm is representing Nassif, said last night he could not comment on the raid or confirm that his client was in fact a witness for the state. Kebble died in a hail of bullets two days before the release of a forensic report that would reveal multibillion-rand fraud at one of his former companies, Randgold & Exploration. After Kebble's death, that report and others revealed that at least R1,5-billion had gone missing from companies under Kebble's watch. It was a figure - then described by company executives as the tip of the iceberg - that has been snowballing ever since. The Scorpions began probing the missing money shortly after the forensic reports were released last year, with Directorate of Special Operations (DSO) head Leonard McCarthy saying the investigation would be "slow" and "deep". Now it seems the investigation is heating up. Scorpions investigators yesterday made a quiet entrance at Nassif's palatial home on the exclusive Mount Pellan Drive in Bassonia - on whose wall, after news of his alleged state-witness status broke, the words "King Rat" were spraypainted. Using unmarked vehicles, the investigators served Nassif with search and seizure papers and began going through his files. Nassif's neighbours said they knew nothing about the raid and refused to speak about their now-notorious neighbour. Some 15km away, several investigators wearing Scorpions golf shirts sealed off the 13th floor of 28 Harrison Street, where JCI's offices are situated. Kebble's former partner at JCI, Australian John Stratton, is believed to be a second suspect in his killing - which Agliotti swears was an "assisted suicide" initiated by Kebble himself. Office workers outside the building said the Scorpions arrived in several unmarked vehicles, which they parked in the basement of the building. Meanwhile, the state is keeping mum on its efforts to extradite Stratton - who is in his 70s - to stand trial with Agliotti. Agliotti's trial was postponed to June to allow the DSO to proceed with its attempt to secure Stratton's presence in court. By Karyn Maughan and Lee Rondganger The Star 01/03/07