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Gupta lieutenant knew about Nhlanhla Nene's axing six weeks before Zuma reshuffle, State Capture commission hears

Former Trillian employee Msilo Mothepu gives evidence at the Zondo commission. Screengrab: SABC/YouTube

Former Trillian employee Msilo Mothepu gives evidence at the Zondo commission. Screengrab: SABC/YouTube

Published Dec 10, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG: A witness has told the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture that she knew about the axing of former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene by ex-president Jacob Zuma six weeks before it was announced.

Former Trillian Financial Advisory chief executive and whistle-blower Mosilo Mothepu on Thursday testified that her former boss and alleged Gupta lieutenant, Eric Wood, informed her of Nene’s looming axing on October 26, 2015.

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Nene was fired by Zuma on December 9, 2015 and replaced by Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association treasurer-general and ANC MP Des van Rooyen.

”He did not tell me who the new finance minister would be,” Mothepu recalled.

According to Mothepu, Wood assured her that the new minister would be more pliable and approve various transactions including the nuclear deal and hybrid debt capital plans for state-owned entities that Nene was reluctant to give the green light for.

At the time, Wood was a director and shareholder of the Gupta-linked company, Regiments Capital.

She said Wood gave her a document for safekeeping which detailed the plans they had for the new minister as he had “bad admin”.

Among their 12-point plan of projects they wanted the new minister to approve were the establishment of a national black bank to ensure the state supported black industry, a national black insurer for short-term requirements and a national black life insurer.

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Mothepu said Wood also wanted to introduce subordinated debt for Transnet and Eskom as they had the largest funding requirements and a lot of debt in their balance sheets.

She said the hybrid debt capital plan was a little bit more expensive and riskier.

Wood, Mothepu explained, had set an ambitious target of raising R50 billion to finance the entities’ debt, a move that would see him and his company pocket 1% of that figure or R500m.

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The commission continues.

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