Companies / 6 May 2019, 06:30am / Sechaba and Kabelo
JOHANNESBURG – Transnet is set to take the stand at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture this week to shed light on how the Guptas and their allies gained access to the freight rail and transport logistics company's lucrative contracts.
Board chairperson Popo Molefe is expected to give details on how billions in kickbacks ended up with the controversial family.
Investigations thus far have revealed that Transnet paid more than R5billion in advisory services on the purchase of 1064 locomotives from China that the utility spent more than R50bn on.
Even the assembling of 95 electrical locomotives as part of Transnet’s long-term fleet renewal programme was mired in controversy, with irregular processes put in place and forged documents purporting to have been signed by the China Rail Corporation at a time when they were not even in South Africa.
Companies that are known to have benefited from the Transnet loot include McKinsey, Regiments Capital and Trillian. McKinsey had seven contracts with Transnet.
At least R30million had circulated between Regiments, the company's partner at Transnet, and into companies associated with Salim Essa, a notorious Gupta associate who owned Trillian.
“The extent of the looting ran into billions, with third parties benefiting handsomely from deals that Transnet had with its contractors and service providers,” an insider said. “It was difficult at first to ascertain how this happened, but we now have a very good idea of what took place.”
Transnet is said to be involved in extensive processes that include negotiations and court cases to recoup some of the money.
Last year, the National Treasury recommended that Transnet institutes lawsuits against former chief executives Brian Molefe and Siyabonga Gama as well as axed chief financial officer Anoj Singh.
Transnet spokesperson Molatwane Likhethe said Transnet submissions would deal with all matters that have been brought to the attention of the group in recent months.
Likhethe said there had been significant enhancements to the governance frameworks of Transnet, particularly in the procurement, treasury and finance environments to ensure breaches and manipulation of processes are avoided entirely.
“The processes of investigation into malfeasance continue in some areas, in these instances disciplinary processes will commence when the investigation processes conclude. Where investigations have been concluded the appropriate disciplinary processes have commenced,” Likhethe said.
Popo Molefe and his board have wasted little time in clamping down on employees accused of playing active roles in the looting of Transnet through dodgy procurement.
Gama was shown the door in October last year on the locomotives irregularities. Eight other executives were suspended in February after forensic investigations fingered then in the flouting of policies
On Friday, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) said it also planned to testify before Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s commission.
Outa portfolio manager on transport Rudie Heyneke said the organisation had evidence that implicated Essa directly in money laundering at Transnet.
“We're confident that Transnet chairperson Popo Molefe will confirm what is in our report while testifying at the State Capture commission. Our submission shows that kickbacks worth billions were given to companies owned by key individuals,” said Heyneke. “New information and evidence is still retrieved daily by our investigation team.”