The bank accounts of a businessman in KwaZulu-Natal have been frozen for allegedly stealing R700 000 from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).

The spokesperson of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Sipho Ngwema says the man whose accounts are frozen by the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) of the NPA is identified to be Thokozani Mchunu.

The order to freeze the account was given by the Pretoria High Court.

“The court ordered that a number of bank accounts linked to Thokozani Mchunu be frozen following suspicions that he fraudulently received funds from the UIF. It is alleged that an amount of R692 185.55 was fraudulently, or mistakenly, paid into a bank account in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, which is registered in Mchunu’s name,” Ngwema says.

It is alleged that Mchunu defrauded National Adhesive Distributors, a Durban company of its funds to pay 150 employees, for the money it had applied for on April, 15.

“On June 12, 2020, the UIF was alerted by the company that the funds had not reflected in their bank account. It was discovered that the funds went into [an account held by] Mchunu, a private individual who is neither employed by the UIF nor the National Adhesive Distributors,” Ngwema says.

After it was discovered that the funds went into the wrong account, the matter was reported to the South African Police Service (SAPS) “which acted swiftly and alerted the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC)”.

“They intervened promptly in terms of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act and froze the relevant accounts,” Ngwema says.

Ngwema says after receiving the funds, Mchunu transferred portions of the money into other bank accounts held by himself, which are various stokvel accounts and numerous bank accounts of other individuals.

“The transfer of the funds into the aforementioned accounts was done in an attempt to disguise the origin of the funds,” Ngwema says.

The SAPS is continuing with its investigations into allegations of fraud, and theft as well as money laundering. The AFU applied for the preservation order to permanently forfeit the money to the state.