The two Gupta-owned media outlets, ANN7 television news channel and The New Age newspaper, received R260 million from South African government departments, with R248 million of the amount having gone to the newspaper, the inquiry into state capture heard on Monday.
Jan Gilliland, an official at national treasury and accountant, testified how he tracked and traced payments to the Gupta media entities between 2004 and July 2018. TNA was launched in 2010, while ANN7 started broadcasting three years later in 2013.
Evidence leader Vincent Maleka told the commission that Gilliland’s evidence was the third part, completing ”the story of GCIS” after former government spin doctor Themba Maseko and acting GCIS CEO Phumla Williams testified how they were pressured to channel government advertising budgets to Gupta-owned media titles.
Gilliland said he used the BAS (Basic Accounting System) payment method applied by the national and provincial treasury, to track and trace government payments for goods and services made by departments. This came after the Hawks started investigating a R55 million payment to the Gupta media outlets and approached Williams, querying the payment.
Maleka told commission chairman Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo: ”This concept becomes important in the context of your mandate regarding the procurement of goods and services, including payments that are the subject of this commission, either because they are underpinned by state capture, corruption or fraud.”
Gilliland said the Guptas received small amounts from 2004, which jumped significantly in 2008 when they received over R1 million. By 2011 a total of R6 million had been transferred. It had increased to R29 million by 2012. When ANN7 was launched in 2013, the media outlets had received R30 million. Maleka said it could be assumed that ANN7 earned money from the government from the day it went on air. Total amounts for 2014 and 2016 were R51 million and R66 million respectively.
The Gupta cash bonanza from the state started to decrease in 2016 when the family received R43 million. Only R27 million was received in 2017, a significant decrease compared to the previous year. From January 2018, the newspaper had received R3.7 million until the demise of The New Age in July. Owner Mzwanele Manyi, who took over control of the Gupta media titles through a vendor financing deal, successfully liquidated the company, citing insolvency.
Regarding payments by provinces to the Guptas, the Free State under its former premier Ace Magashule transferred R79 million, while KwaZulu-Natal was second with payments totalling R29 million.
Gillian’s evidence was presented in slides showing graphs of payments over the years.