PRETORIA – Emotions ran high when Lawrence Mulaudzi, a controversial businessman and a beneficiary of multiple deals from the embattled Public Investment Corporation (PIC), defended his love affair with PIC Board member, Sibusisiwe Zulu while testifying at the PIC Commission of Inquiry chaired by retired Judge Lex Mpati.
Mulaudzi, who runs investment company Kilimanjaro Capital Propriety Limited, also went into detail on the multimillion-rand deals involving Tosaco, Total South Africa and Ascendis Health, between 2015 and 2016.
Mulaudzi confessed before the commission that he had made two EFT payments of R150 000, totalling R300 000, to bail out businesses belonging to Pretty Louw, which had gone into arrear, as requested by former PIC CEO, Dan Matjila. He told the commission that the payments came directly from him (Mulaudzi).
Mulaudzi also categorically stated that the payments did not come from Ascendis or Kefolile.
“I further record that I did not and do not, have any relationship with Ms Louw. When we met after Dr Dan Matjila’s intervention, I recognised that I had met her before at a social environment. I did not have any other dealings with her,” confirmed Mulaudzi.
Mulaudzi also told the commission that he was not forced to forward the money to Louw, however, he could not say "no" to the PIC chief executive.
Emails from whistle-blower Noko, allege that Mulaudzi is at the centre of a controversial Total deal, where he was paid R100m for facilitation of which, R40m was paid to Zulu and her uncle, former Treasurer General of the ANC and the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Zweli Mkhize.
Noko’s emails claimed that Mulaudzi was a well-known PIC benefactor who was used by Matjila to pay R300 000 to Louw.
The allegations further stated that Zulu used her relationship with Mulaudzi, to benefit from a transaction that she approved in some of the committees that she chairs, at the PIC, where she has the power to approve up to R2bn without the board’s consent.
“Through her scheme with the boyfriend, she has benefited over R600m in shareholding and well over R100m in fees, which she uses to finance her lavish lifestyle,” read the emails.
Mulaudzi further explained that his relationship was based on a personal level, even though she was an executive director of the PIC and he had extensive business dealings with the same institutions, where his company benefitted from various multimillion-rand projects.
He denounced the allegations from Noko as faceless, untruthful and baseless. He said Zulu’s name as a professional has been unfairly tarnished, arguing that Zulu has never benefitted financially from his transactions concluded with the PIC.
“To be specific, the allegation by the unknown source that I gave her R40 million from the R100 million fees KISACO received in the total deal, is false. Simple Arithmetic Sequence says that we as KiliCap paid R38 million for fees and paid the other R50 million to Sakhumnotho. There is no other party including Ms Zulu that would have received R40 Million from us,” explained Mulaudzi.
However, the president of the United Democratic Movement (UDM), Bantu Holomisa, on Wednesday urged the Commission to take a closer look at allegations against Mulaudzi and why it seemed so easy for him to gain access to PIC funding.
The UDM leader referred the commission to the alleged funding support for Kefolile Health Investments, for the subscription of Ascendis Health and, Bounty Brands shareholding.
He said the Kefolile deal that involves the PIC and some other common role-players, had been for an aggregate amount of R1.775 billion in funding support.
“The alleged common role-player, in this and, the Project Atlas deal, is Mr Mulaudzi. We think you would be wise to inquire what his role had been in both deals, whether he received transactional incentives and most importantly if all the allegations are true, why it seems so easy for Mr Mulaudzi to gain access to PIC funding”.
He said the commission would also be well advised to scrutinise these records and verify how many companies were allegedly linked to Mr Mulaudzi.
He also questioned Mulaudzi’s relationship with Zulu.
In her defence, Mulaudzi referred to Zulu as a no-nonsense lawyer who is strict, independent and not easily influenced. ”Any insinuation that alleges any undue influence and impropriety on her part, in my interactions with the PIC, is false and a fabrication,” he said.