Cape Town - After pressure from the United Democratic Movement (UDM), the BEE commission is revisiting an investigation into Cape Town businessman Tony Ingram for allegedly using a black woman as a front to net an estimated R300 million contract.
After the initial Cape Argus story (Woman reports Table View businessman to Parliament for allegedly using her as a 'BEE front'), the ANC trade, industry and competition committee chairperson, MP Judy Hermans, wrote to the commission, which then undertook to reopen the case.
The Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) commission had previously dismissed city businesswoman Mandisa Matwa’s complaint against Ingram. The commission previously said it had closed the case without contacting Ingram.
Matwa then complained to Hermans, detailing how Ingram allegedly used her race and gender to boost the company’s B-BBEE score, and sidelined her. BBBEE commission spokesperson Mofihli Teleki said: “Following information reported in the story in the Cape Argus of September 6, the commission is revisiting the matter.”
UDM MP Nqabayomzi Kwankwa spent months pressing Hermans on the case. Matwa, a 26% shareholder, said she had been sidelined from several business operations by Ingram’s property company, Milprops, including an R800 000 a week, 8-year contract with city-based multinational company, Damen Shipyards.
She said she was repeatedly browbeaten by Ingram whenever she requested a copy of their business contract and inclusion on Milprops’ day-to-day operations.
The B-BBEE Commission dismissed her claim on the technicality that Milprops reflects as solely owned by Ingram on the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission database, despite the National Treasury’s database showing that Matwa owns 26% of the company. A letter, dated September 5, from Hermans to the BEE commissioner, queries why the investigation had been dropped.
Replying on September 12, B-BBEE acting commissioner Tshediso Matona confirmed to the committee that the commission had dismissed Matwa’s complaint. “We have since consulted (National Treasury) records and have confirmed that Ms Matwa is reflected there as a 26% shareholder in Milprops 450 CC,” Matona’s letter reads.
“There thus appears to be a discrepancy between Companies and Intellectual Property Commission records on which the commission based its assessment, and National Treasury’s Central Supplier Database records. In light of this, the commission will revisit the matter and will contact Ms Matwa.
“We regret this matter as the commission is steadfastly committed to assisting complainants, and we hope that in revisiting it, it will be resolved.”
Matwa said: “I’ve been receiving a few emails from the commission. It’s quite interesting that they admit they’ve made a mistake. It just shows there was foul play. I have mixed emotions.
“My former lawyer just told me (Friday) that Tony and his lawyer really want to give me the copy of my shares and (evaluate) the company properly and show me what’s owed to me, but I feel it’s too late for that.”
She said she no longer trusts Ingram and that he could cook the books to cheat her again. I just want that company to be audited by Parliament and the commission,” Matwa said.
Matwa said Damen asked for a meeting this week, but when she requested that a representative be present, the company reneged.
Damen human capital and transformation manager, Eva Moloi, said: “I can confirm that we have requested a meeting with Ms Matwa and are awaiting feedback on her availability.
“We are not in the position to comment or to respond to an investigation and will only be able to do so when the B-BBEE Commission has issued its findings.”
At the weekend, Kwankwa berated the commission and questioned its competence. He said the Hawks may be roped in to probe as they suspect foul play.
Ingram previously said that the matter was with his lawyers, but he had not responded at the time of writing. Teleki said: “In light of the information discrepancy, the commission is revisiting the matter, and has contacted Ms Matwa. This will enable a new assessment to be undertaken by the commission prior to a decision to investigate the complaint further.”
He said Matwa had not submitted the Treasury document to them.