Following a week in which the ‘squeaky clean’ reputation of finance minister Nhlanhla Nene received a blow after he was caught lying in an eNCA clip about having met the Guptas while deputy finance minister, a report by Amabhungane and the Mail & Guardian looks into the finance minister’s alleged involvement in a deal involving the minister’s son and an oil refinery in Mozambique.
According to the report, a business partner of Siyabonga Nene, the finance minister’s son earned millions from a deal made while Nene was chairperson of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC).
Nene’s role in the deal, linked to businessman Momande Rassul Rahim, who was arrested for alleged money laundering, tax evasion and smuggling last year, is now being questioned.
This is due to PIC records stating that the state-owned investment corporation was “approached by a South African company” “to establish and fund the consortium to facilitate a 50 % acquisition” of the S&S Refinery in Mozambique built by Rassul.
The company mentioned is Indiafrec Trade and Invest, owned by the younger Nene and another “young entrepreneur,” Muhammad Amir Mirza.
Nene has, so far, denied any involvement.
At the commission of inquiry into state capture on Wednesday he said: “I deny that I have ever acted inappropriately with regard to any investments made by the PIC. I deny any and every allegation that I knowingly acted to promote any funding from the PIC for any business involving my son.”
This was followed by his spokesperson Jabulani Sikhakhane telling the Mail & Guardian: “Minister Nene only became aware of his son’s involvement in Indiafrec’s Mozambique deal when his son, in a casual father-son discussion, mentioned that he and his business partner had run into problems with a deal they had been negotiating with the Public Investment Corporation. At no point did Minister Nene discuss the Indiafrec transaction with the PIC.”
Sikhakhane also denied any conflict of interest.
“Conflict of interest would only have arisen if Minister had presided over a PIC meeting where Indiafrec’s funding proposal was being discussed… In any case, Indiafrec’s funding application was turned down,” he said.
But according to the report, “the available evidence suggests a picture of the PIC rushing eyes wide shut into a R1-billion investment that could only bring trouble, made not in the interest of government pensioners but founded on the need to gratify Nene Jr and his business partner.”
The full report is available here.