Vincent Smith assisted former Bosasa boss’ son to get ANC job

Top ANC MP Vincent Smith confirmed that he 'assisted' former Bosasa chief operations officer Angelo Agrizzi's son to get a job at the ANC in Gauteng in 2015.

During interviews with News24 over payments totalling R670 000 made to Smith in 2015 and 2016, Smith was asked to explain his relationship with Agrizzi. 

He denied knowledge that the funds came from Bosasa, saying he had asked Agrizzi for a personal loan to cover his daughter's tertiary education fees.

Bosasa now trades as African Global Operations.

Between 2009 and 2014, Smith was the chair of the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services. He was a member of the committee when former SIU head, advocate Willie Hofmeyr, presented a report on Bosasa to it, which found the company had bribed prison officials to score tenders worth nearly R1.5bn.

Smith argued that he had no influence over the committee at the time of the loans.

Agrizzi denied any loan agreement, verbal or otherwise, and said Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson instructed him to make the payments. Watson and Bosasa have denied this. 

Agrizzi is now facing a charge of crimen injuria, opened by two of his former Bosasa colleagues, after he was recorded using the K-word to describe them during a rant at his home. 

A News24 report on Sunday detailed that in July 2015, Bosasa finance employee Jacques van Zyl deposited R276 000 into the FNB business account of Euro Blitz 48, a company of which Smith is the sole director.

On August 5, 2016, Agrizzi instructed attorney Christo van Wyk via email to make a R395 000 payment to the same account from funds held in a trust account by Van Wyk for Bosasa.

Agrizzi CCed Bosasa chief financial officer Andries van Tonder in his email to Van Wyk.

Smith clarified on Wednesday that he had not asked anyone to hire Giancarlo Agrizzi, a political science PhD graduate, but had simply given advice on who he should send his CV to.

Smith said he had recommended Giancarlo Agrizzi send his CV to "three or four people".

Smith said Angelo Agrizzi had asked him to assist his son, which Agrizzi denied.

ALSO READ: ANC rallies around MP Vincent Smith after controversial Bosasa payments

Apparently, this included chief whip of the ANC caucus in the Gauteng provincial legislature, Brian Hlongwa, who confirmed on Wednesday that Smith had spoken to him about Agrizzi.

"At the time he (Smith) said there is this young PhD student, who is a member of the ANC, which is a requirement for you to work for the party for obvious reasons," Hlongwa told News24.

"I said no he must submit CVs like everybody else. He did, and there was a process and in fact, Mr Giancarlo [Agrizzi] was overqualified, but was willing to work within the terms and conditions stipulated."

Smith said that as an MP he had assisted hundreds of others in the same manner.

"People approach MPs all the time with young men and women who have completed matric but have no job. It was in that spirit that I assisted this young man," he said.

'I told him here are the kinds of people you can send it to. I can certainly say I had no influence over it. He honestly got it on the strength of his CV," Smith explained.

Smith wanted to clarify that he had not simply arrived at Angelo Agrizzi's door to borrow money, but that they had known each other previously and had an existing relationship when he asked to borrow the cash.

Giancarlo Agrizzi told News24 that he was hired as a researcher at the ANC in May 2015. This was two months before the first payment went to Smith.

"I was approached by [Vincent] Smith to submit my CV to the chief whip Brian Hlongwa," Giancarlo Agrizzi said.

"I was later contacted for an interview where I was offered the job by the then secretary of caucus, Sipho Makama."

Makama died in 2017.

WATCH: Did Bosasa staff remove CCTV from Vincent Smith's home?

According to Giancarlo Agrizzi, he was first hired as a researcher and later promoted to manager of the Legislative and Research Unit. At some stage, he also acted as Secretary of Caucus following a request from Hlongwa.

"From my view, all the processes were followed in my employment and subsequent promotions," he said.

"When being promoted, I began to realise the level of corruption taking place and following being asked to do things I did not feel embraced the ethos of the ANC, I immediately tendered my resignation…in September 2016," he added. 

Smith has asked the ANC in Parliament to allow him to step aside from the various committees he serves on, including his position as chairperson of the Constitutional Review Committee on land expropriation until the ethics committee has cleared him of wrongdoing.

He also faces a probe by the ANC's Integrity Committee. 

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