Andile Ramaphosa Screengrab: African News Agency (ANA)
Andile Ramaphosa Screengrab: African News Agency (ANA)

#AndileRamaphosa comes clean on failed bid to buy Mercantile Bank

By BALDWIN NDABA Time of article published Apr 2, 2019

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Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa’s son Andile appears to be feeling the heat over his questionable business dealings.

On Monday, he revealed that he was part of a failed bid to buy a bank with a Chinese company that has come under the spotlight at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.

This comes days after Andile came under fire for admitting to receiving R2 million from a deal with controversial facilities management company Bosasa.

He has now admitted that his company, Blue Crane Capital, had a failed business deal with Huarong Energy Africa, which allegedly gave Eskom a loan of R25 billion at the behest of former public enterprises minister Lynne Brown in 2017.

Last month, Eskom treasury official Sincedile Shweni told the Zondo inquiry that the utility contravened procurement regulations that govern unsolicited loan bids when it acquired the loan from Huarong.

In a statement, Andile said his relationship with Jianbao Chen of Huarong dated to January last year, after they had agreed to set up a company, Blue Tree International, to buy Mercantile Bank.

This was immediately after Ramaphosa was elected ANC president at the party’s elective conference in December 2017.

Andile said he had taken to heart the impact of his relationship with Bosasa - which now trades as African Global Operations (AGO) - on the integrity of his business, his credibility as a businessman and his trustworthiness as a responsible citizen.

He had undertaken a process to review all his business relationships, past and present, in order to improve risk management.

“I have appointed a legal firm to assist with the review process. It will carry out due diligence investigations on all my previous and current business partnerships and devise a risk management framework to identify and eliminate unethical and potentially questionable relationships,” he said.

He noted that he could have owned 13% of Mercantile Bank, with Chen owning the majority 87%, if the deal had succeeded.

He said the bank had not expressed any suspicions about Chen and his Huarong Energy Africa business, and nor did law firm Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs, which was engaged to act on their behalf in the bid process to pick up any concerns.

He, however, said that “after careful consideration”, he had pulled out of the bid to acquire the bank in May last year due to the risk increase in the asset evaluation, which would have made it difficult for Blue Crane to raise enough capital to exercise future options.

He said his partnership with Chen and AGO had made it necessary for him to review “business relationships to eliminate risk and to maintain a clean reputation as a business.

“But, beyond that, the process is necessary to ensure that the son of the president of the country remains above board and his name is not used for corrupt activities.” But UDM leader Bantu Holomisa was not convinced, saying Andile’s comments sounded like someone who had pressed a panic button.

“It appears he has not recovered from the Bosasa saga. I think he should appear before the Zondo Commission…” Holomisa said.

The DA’s Natasha Mazzone said: “It goes to show just how deep and how entrenched state capture is within the ANC… we now see Ramaphosa and his friends and family were beneficiaries. It is not coming clean when you get caught, simply admitting guilt.”

Political Bureau

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