FNB offers to pay half of Msomi millions

Welcome Msomi's saga deepens./Veli Nhlapo
Welcome Msomi's saga deepens./Veli Nhlapo

The government and FNB have entered into negotiations that could see the bank paying back a portion of the R8m stolen from the Living Legends Trust bank account.

Sowetan understands the negotiations have led to FNB offering to pay R4.5m.

But the bank, according to insiders, said it was doing this as a "gesture of goodwill" to the artists who were the beneficiaries and not as an acceptance of liability.

According to sources, the department of arts and culture is demanding at least R6m from the bank.

An insider yesterday told Sowetan that lawyers representing the Living Legends, the department as well as FNB, have been in discussions about getting the banking institution to pay back some of the money.

Department spokesperson Asanda Magaqa said minister Nathi Mthethwa has consistently stated that justice in this matter would not only entail the bringing of the perpetrator to book, but the recovery of the misappropriated funds.

"In this regard, we would welcome the payment. The final amount would be subject to final consideration by the trustees and the minister

"We are not aware of any settlement at this stage, and due to the sensitive nature of this matter, we prefer not to comment further on any negotiations thereof," said Magaqa

 

FNB's Lee-Anne van Zyl, however, insisted it had not accepted liability on the matter.

"We commend the swift response of law enforcement authorities against the individual who illegally transferred funds out of the Living Legends Trust's account held at FNB.

"FNB can confirm that its thorough internal investigation has found no indication that the individual colluded with any of our employees."

But a source at the bank also confirmed that the bank had offered to pay the R4.5m as a goodwill gesture to artists.

On Wednesday, playwright and director Welcome Msomi appeared in the Palm Ridge magistrate's court for allegedly siphoning the Living Legends' money from the bank account.

Msomi allegedly withdrew as little as R40 up to R350,000 in 19 days, emptying the fund which needed three signatories for withdrawals.

He was arrested three weeks ago and has been charged with 61 counts of theft.

The withdrawals of the money apparently started on September 18 2018, the day after the R8m was transferred into the Living Legends Trust account from the department of arts & culture.

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