VIJAY NAIDOO: Good Business Basics: SA – a giant criminal enterprise | South Coast Herald

VIJAY NAIDOO: Good Business Basics: SA - a giant criminal enterprise | South Coast Herald

That the entire country is close to becoming one giant criminal enterprise is alarmingly evident in the recently released Global Organized Crime Index 2023, which placed us 7th among 193 UN member states, and the worst in Southern Africa.

For me, the reference to ‘state embedded actors working in cahoots with criminal networks’ was perhaps the most chilling. It starkly illustrates that the deeply embedded and systemic nature of corruption due to years of inaction and collusion by and with the ruling party, is now acknowledged at an international level. While the Zondo Commission succeeded in identifying and removing some famous Gupta ‘embedded actors’ at Transnet and Eskom of the likes of Salim Essa, Anoj Singh and Brian Molefe, there are without doubt scores of ‘sleepers’ going about their merry work. How else could one explain entire train sets loaded with coal being diverted, on Transnet owned lines, to unauthorised recipients?

The ability for ‘state embedded actors’ to facilitate, manipulate and obfuscate the entire criminal value chain is immense .We have seen the facilitation in action when foreigners of less than savoury character, often under legal scrutiny in their own countries, such as Radovan Krejcir and Vito Palazollo suddenly appear on our shores uncontested.

Manipulation of tender processes was the norm at most of the State Owned Enterprises (SOE’s) under siege from Gupta acolytes, and obfuscation (often aided by top flight legal argument), when for example, millions was advanced by Eskom to Gupta companies to buy the Optimum coal mine.

Of course, the role of rogue state officials in facilitating the export of illicit goods such as rhino horn or stolen copper is self-evident; what is less evident is this: the prime aim of criminal enterprises is to profit from trade in goods, traditionally illicit e.g. drugs, which put them on the radar of law enforcement. They are now turning their skills to mainline products such as coal and other mining products such as manganese and chrome, using the veneer of legal business entities,

The government has blithely ignored the warning lights that led us to be greylisted by the Financial Action Task Force for not complying with international standards regarding money laundering. The impact of this report, as it filters through to our trading partners could arguably, be much more serious.

Vijay Naidoo is the CEO of the Port Shepstone Business Forum. He writes in his personal capacity. The views expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of this publication.


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