BUSTED! Popular Pastor To Lose His Private Jet For Fraud And Money Laundering - ROUND GIST

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Tuesday, 19 February 2019

BUSTED! Popular Pastor To Lose His Private Jet For Fraud And Money Laundering

According to reports, self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri’s private jet is subject to an application of attachment by the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU). The Hawks said on Sunday the application for the jet to be confiscated was part of the South African government’s investigation into the controversial Malawian pastor and his wife, Mary, according to various news reports. The founder of the Enlightened Christian Gathering Church and his wife are currently facing fraud and money laundering charges.

The contravention is in relation to exchange control regulations allegedly involving foreign currency of $1.1m (about R15m). They are out on bail and are due to return to the Specialised Crime Court in Pretoria in May. Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi told TimesLIVE that Bushiri and his legal team had 14 days to respond to the application for an attachment order. EWN quoted Mulaudzi as saying: “Mr Bushiri’s lawyers were handed the documents (from the application to attach the jet). Unfortunately, he’s to oppose the application…”

Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife, Mary Bushiri, face not only fraud and money-laundering charges, but the prospect of their assets getting seized. The controversial pastor and wife were arrested at a hotel in Rustenburg on Friday, February 1, and appeared before the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Monday, February 4. The couple were formally charged and had their application for bail postponed to Wednesday, February 6. However, it appears that this is just the tip of the iceberg for the pair, with the state eyeing their assets.

Jet-setting their way into Court According to City Press, the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU), which is a branch of the National Prosecuting Authority, joined the legal battle against the couple. The AFU has filed a preservation order, seeking to seize assets, pending the finalisation of the couple’s criminal case. Sources close to the developments claim that the organisation has already filed an application for permission to seize the Bushiris’ homes, cars and private jet. The couple are the owners of a fleet of luxury cars, including a R3 million Mercedes G63, a Maserati, a Rolls-Royce and other luxury vehicles. The preservation order is expected to be granted next week and will see the couple unable to access their possessions. According to a source, the process is crucial in order to avoid Bushiri selling assets not only to fund legal bills, but to hide them from the state.

According to News24, City Press has obtained an affidavit from an investigator in the case, showing that the AFU have already identified properties, vehicles and bank accounts, which they have asked the High Court to preserve. This affidavit, allegedly used to obtain warrants for the arrest of the couple, states that they are accused of committing fraud, money laundering and contravening the Prevention of Organised Crime Act. According to the affidavit, undisclosed amounts of foreign currency were found at Bushiri’s offices in Midrand, when police had raided the premises in May 2018. ‘Major 1’, as his followers know him, has been making headlines for questionable transactions for a while now, previously having advertised tables at a gala dinner for as much as R25 000. Other claims include him charging congregants for private prayer sessions.

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