Charles Cilliers
4 minute read
27 Nov 2018
6:35 pm

EFG law firm to sue Maimane and DA for defamation over ‘Bosasa-Gupta’ allegations

Charles Cilliers

The DA leader claims he discovered a link between Ramaphosa and the Guptas, but the law firm caught in the middle says he didn't do his homework.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane, second left, during a press briefing on unaffordable fuel prices and a planned march to have Treasury decrease the fuel price by at least R1 a litre, 24 July 2018, Manhattan Hotel, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

They claim he was completely misguided and will now have to face a lawsuit from them for defamation.

Maimane claimed his party had confirmed that the law firm had links to the Guptas and had been administering the “slush fund” from which R500,000 reached President Cyril Ramaphosa’s campaign team last year.

Maimane originally brought attention to the R500,000 Bosasa donation through a question to Ramaphosa in parliament earlier this month.

Maimane had claimed on Tuesday: “The slush fund used to raise money for Cyril Ramaphosa’s election campaign to become ANC president – which included the R500,000 ‘donation’ from Bosasa – was administered by a law firm whose director appears to have links to the Guptas and their state capture project.”

He said a trust account named “efg2” – administered by law firm Edelstein, Farber and Grobler (EFG) – was the account into which the R500,000 Bosasa ‘donation’ was “funnelled through”, “as admitted by the president in his letter to the speaker of parliament. This follows his about-turn to my question in parliament about this R500,000 payment – which Ramaphosa initially stated was a payment to his son Andile for consultancy work done for Bosasa.”

Maimane was referring to the fact that last weekend Ramaphosa issued a correction to his earlier parliamentary reply – claiming he learnt that the money was made on behalf of Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson into a trust account that was used to fund his election campaign. Ramaphosa claimed he had been unaware of the donation when he’d responded to Maimane’s question.

African Global Operations has since tried to distance itself from the donation, claiming it was a personal one from Watson.

Maimane says the plot is thicker than this alone though.

“We can today confirm,” he said, “that Mr Jeffrey Afriat, a director at EFG – the law firm which administered this trust account – served as one of three directors of Trillian Capital, a primary vehicle used by the Guptas to capture the state and loot billions of rands of public money.

“Afriat served as director during 2016 alongside Mr Eric Wood – at the apex of state capture and theft of public money by the Guptas and the ANC. Afriat is also cited twice by name in Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report. Afriat resigned as Trillian director shortly before the Budlender inquiry into Trillian was launched.”

Maimane said Ramaphosa would now be left with little choice but to heed his call and immediately appoint a full-scale independent inquiry into the Bosasa scandal – which he said should be headed by a retired judge to be selected by the chief justice in keeping with the precedent set by the state capture commission – “to fully investigate the Bosasa scandal, which now involves the president and his family”.

In response, EFG has said they were never privy to any of the information concerning the donors to Ramaphosa’s “CR17 campaign”.

They said they had merely done their job to administer the trust account in question and Afriat had personally never been involved in any way in the matter.

They particularly took issue with Maimane’s use of the words “slush fund” and “funnelled through”, which they considered derogatory and suggestive of underhandedness, which was not a fair reflection of their professionalism, they protested.

They also dismissed the purported links between their firm, their executive executive director and shareholder Afriat and Trillian as baseless.

“The two issues (which by the way have nothing to do with EFG) are separate and distinct and there is no nexus between them whatsoever.”

They then outlined Afriat’s history with Trillian, protesting that he had never been party to any of the Gupta-linked dealings for which the company became notorious.

They, however, had to confirm that Afriat was a non-executive director at Trillian.

“Mr Afriat played no role in the affairs of Trillian Capital Partners and never attended any board meetings. Mr Afriat at no stage was an employee or a shareholder of Trillian.”

They challenged Maimane to hold himself to the same high standards for truth telling that he claimed to uphold when it came to bribery and corruption.

They pointed out that he and the DA had never bothered to extend them the courtesy of contacting them first before releasing the allegations about EFG, Bosasa and Ramaphosa publicly.

They said they would therefore be suing him and his party for defamation.

You can read their statement in its entirety below:

EFG Press Statement 27 November 2018 by Charles Cilliers on Scribd

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