South Africa 1.6.2017 08:35 am

Guptas paid billions in locomotive ‘toll’, alleges report

Finance minister Malusi Gigaba and Ajay Gupta. File photo.

Finance minister Malusi Gigaba and Ajay Gupta. File photo.

According to a new investigation, the family is being paid enormous kickbacks (which don’t circulate in SA) for doing nothing but ‘setting up’ deals.

An investigation by Daily Maverick and amaBhungane has uncovered fresh evidence that directly suggests that “the Guptas and their associates are amassing fortunes offshore by tolling contracts at state-owned entities they control”.

The report alleges that leaked email correspondence shows that the Guptas and their associates have been and continue to divert “billions of rands from Transnet’s purchase of locomotives to their offshore accounts”.

This was, according to the emails, achieved through a kickback agreement with Chinese rail company China South Rail (CSR).

The article details how the scheme was apparently put together through the work of Gupta deal maker Salim Essa, who created a lucrative benefit for a Hong Kong company called Tequesta that would ultimately stand to make about R5.3 billion in kickbacks (described as an “advisory fee” during negotiations) simply for ensuring the Chinese rail firm received the tender in the first place.

The report further alleges that the then minister of public enterprises, Malusi Gigaba (now the finance minister) played a central role in putting key role players in place at Transnet to allow this deal to materialise. The appointment of Brian Molefe as Transnet’s CEO in 2011 was also a key factor that ultimately allowed the contract with the Chinese firm, CSR, to be signed in 2015.

The report suggests that at least R1.4 billion in kickbacks had already been paid to a Gupta-linked company by January 2015 and that “CSR’s delivery of locomotives to Transnet are continuing. And so, presumably are the kickbacks”.

The report admits that it did not seek comment from any of the implicated parties, believing that its investigation would have been interfered with.

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa later told EWN that all the evidence surrounding #GuptaLeaks should be taken to a judicial commission of inquiry.

You can read the full report here.

The Sunday Times also reported last year that it had seen a letter evidencing how the Gupta family had “schemed” to grab yet another R51 billion train tender for the same bidder, CSR, to supply the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) with 600 commuter trains.

It reported that the Guptas and President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane Zuma had wanted then transport minister Ben Martins to restructure the Prasa board and even to “give shares” in their company to the then Prasa CEO Lucky Montana, which would have been a major conflict of interest and strictly illegal. Montana claimed he was appalled by this and that he had written a letter expressing his concern that Prasa’s board was being restructured.

It’s understood this deal may have fallen through as a result.

Montana’s letter revealed damning information about how the Guptas were trading on their closeness with the president, as government was, according to Montana, bending over backwards to “allow time for the board to be restructured …” so that the Gupta family and China South Rail could achieve their requirements.

Montana claimed to have been highly incensed by the affair and “blasted” Tony Gupta and Duduzane about their plan, which he “rejected contemptuously” amid his surprise that the family finds “such power, authority and audacity”.

 

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