South Africa – Hawks ramp up investigation of the Guptas

City Press

2017-06-04 06:01

Law enforcement agencies are intensifying four investigations into allegations that the family moved billions of rands out of South Africa.

But it is not only the Guptas who find themselves under scrutiny by the Hawks’ Serious Corruption Investigation unit.

City Press has also obtained documents showing that the Hawks are investigating former Eskom chief executive officer (CEO) Brian Molefe, and President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane.

A tranche of documents detailing the status and progress of the investigations show that Hawks’ detectives have:

– Obtained detailed bank statements from Molefe and his “profile” to establish if he received any “kickbacks” from the Gupta family or their businesses;

– Obtained detailed statements of seven Gupta-owned companies for expert analysis;

– Interviewed Eskom’s head of procurement;

– Approached Treasury to request assistance with information relating to Tegeta Exploration, the family’s mining company;

– Forwarded information to prosecutors regarding allegations that the Guptas offered former deputy finance minister Mcebesi Jonas the job of his boss, and allegedly offered him a R600m bribe; and

– Had little success in convincing former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor to cooperate with their investigation into her allegations that the Guptas offered her the job of public enterprises minister if she would assist their airline in securing a lucrative route.

Of Brian Molefe, one of the reports states:

“A Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) request was made on the CEO of Eskom Mr Brian Molefe in order to establish his financial profile on whether there was any kickback to him or any other member of his family paid by the members of the Gupta family.

“The Gupta companies from which the unit requested financial statements include: Tegeta Exploration, Shiva Uranium, JIC Mining Services, Optimum Coal, TNA Media, Sahara Computers and the Koornfontein Coal Mine.”

The reports are marked “secret” and titled “Task Team Investigations: Pre-State Capture Report” and “Task Team Investigations: Post-State Capture Report”, referring to former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report.

The charges being investigated, however, do not relate to Madonsela’s report, but from charges laid by several politicians, including the Economic Freedom Fighters’ Floyd Shivambu, the DA’s Natasha Mazzone and David Maynier, the Congress of the People’s Dennis Bloem, and Mentor.

The documents also state that investigators have encountered resistance and received little cooperation from witnesses.

According to the reports, investigators have had to resort to requesting National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete’s intervention because some reluctant witnesses are members of Parliament.

City Press has also learnt that all state capture-related investigations have been removed from different police stations around the country – including from Cape Town, Randburg and Rosebank – and consolidated at the Hawks’ head office in Silverton, Pretoria.

One of the reports indicates that a Hawks detective struggled to get Mentor to tell him the exact dates, times and itinerary of her trip to Johannesburg to meet Zuma, during which she landed up at the Guptas’ Saxonwold compound.

The detective asked for detailed information about the car that picked her up from the airport, a copy of her invitation letter from the presidency, names of those present in the meetings she attended, and who said what.

“All the above-mentioned information [was] requested from Ms Mentor on several occasions and she failed to provide such. She was given more than one chance to make the information available, without success,” said a junior detective on the case.

Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi refused to comment on the investigations, saying “we do not conduct our investigations via the media”.

Hawks put pressure on the FIC

City Press has established that last week, the Hawks asked the FIC to provide the unit with detailed and specific information about the Gupta family’s alleged suspicious transactions.

This took place at a meeting in Pretoria on May 23 – before the news of the #GuptaLeaks email scandal broke. Present at the meeting were officials from the SA Reserve Bank (Sarb), the FIC and the Hawks.

They met to discuss the FIC’s certificate, attached to the court application brought by then finance minister Pravin Gordhan, seeking confirmation that he could not interfere with the country’s banks that closed the Guptas’ bank accounts.

The report showed 72 suspicious transactions totalling more than R6 billion.

City Press has learnt that, during the meeting, the Hawks requested the FIC officials to provide details because it was too vague to act upon.

A senior Hawks official privy to the meeting said:

“There was a meeting that was held at the Reserve Bank last week. We wanted to know if the money eventually left the country. We really wanted to know if the money went out or not.”

Another senior Hawks officer, who was part of the investigation team when the ­Gupta case was initiated, said “preliminary investigations have been conducted”.

“The FIC report must tell you which transactions, otherwise you could be looking at 1 000 or 2 000 transactions and you wouldn’t know which ones are suspicious,” he said.

“They are the ones who must tell us which ones are suspicious, otherwise you could be looking for a needle in a haystack. Without them saying this is suspicious, these are the dates, you can’t do anything.”

He also revealed that there had been tensions between the Hawks and the FIC.

“Their reaction at the time was, ‘Look, we can’t help you.’ And we said to them, ‘You can’t say we can’t help you.’” A source close to the FIC said that the agencies were now working the cases together.

A senior law enforcement officer with knowledge of the FIC report said collecting information on the Gupta accounts “was a highly sensitive exercise that was assigned to specific ­individuals.

It was strictly controlled and very few people wanted to deal with it.”

He said the FIC had flagged numerous of the Gupta family’s financial transactions, amounting to billions of rands, as money laundering.

“These were complex transactions, including loans between companies in the Oakbay Resources group and others overseas. The FIC doesn’t investigate, as such, they forwarded the information to the Hawks and Sarb.”

Two other sources in government finance said Sarb had finished compiling a report on the transactions.

“I doubt the report will ever see the light of day. Not only is it a controversial report, but both the FIC and the Reserve Bank are highly secretive institutions,” the official said.

Sarb spokesperson Jabulani Sikhakhane declined to comment, saying “the Reserve Bank does not comment on meetings that may or may not have taken place”.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku said one docket containing a Gupta probe was referred back to the Hawks for further investigation.

The Guptas’ lawyer, Gert van der Merwe, did not respond to calls and SMSes sent to him yesterday afternoon.

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