South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has denied money laundering allegations as he was questioned by politicians over a scandal that threatens his position and the leadership of Africa’s most developed economy.
Mr Ramaphosa is already under investigation by police and a parliamentary-appointed panel for the theft of a large sum of US dollars from his ranch in 2020.
He was accused of illegally possessing approximately $4 million in cash at his gambling ranch in northern South Africa and concealing his theft in an attempt to conceal the existence of the money.
The allegations first surfaced in June when the former head of the national spy agency filed a criminal complaint with police accusing Mr Ramaphosa of money laundering and other offences.
“I deny that there was any form of money laundering,” Mr Ramaphosa told the Cape Town parliament on Thursday.
“It was the proceeds from the sale of game. I have been a game breeder for several years. This is an activity that sometimes results in the sale of animals.
Mr Ramaphosa has denied any wrongdoing in the incident but has previously avoided questions about it, saying only that the theft did take place and that he had reported it to the head of his Presidential Protection Unit at the ‘era.
The allegations have seriously damaged his reputation as a leader determined to clean up both the corrupt South African government and his own ruling party, the African National Congress.
Mr Ramaphosa said he would cooperate with any investigation into the incident. No criminal charges have been brought against him, but a high profile and serious crime police unit is investigating.
The panel of independent legal experts appointed by Parliament will also decide whether he has a case to answer for an alleged breach of his oath of office.
“I will cooperate to the fullest of my abilities,” Ramaphosa told lawmakers.
The timing is dire for the 69-year-old, who is seeking re-election as leader of the ANC party at a conference in December. If he loses there, he will probably be expelled as the country’s president.
Mr. Ramaphosa’s two predecessors, Jacob Zuma and Thabo Mbeki, lost the confidence of the ANC and, as a result, resigned from the presidency.